Global Epidemic



  • There are almost 275 million tobacco users in India.
  • More than one-third of adults (age 15+) use some form of tobacco, including almost half of men (48 percent) and 20 percent of women.
  • Among youth (age 13-15), 4 percent smoke cigarettes and almost 12 percent use other types of tobacco products.
  • Bidis, cheap hand-rolled cigarettes, are the most popular tobacco product used in India.
  • Bidis comprise 48 percent of the tobacco market, chewing tobacco 38 percent and cigarettes 14 percent.

Health Consequences

  • About 1 million Indians die from tobacco-related diseases each year in India.
  • Among youth (age 13-15), 27 percent are exposed to secondhand smoke at home and 40 percent are exposed to secondhand smoke in public places.

Tobacco Industry

The Imperial Tobacco Company Group holds 58 percent of the total cigarette market, Philip Morris International has 12 percent, while Golden Tobacco Ltd has 11 percent of the cigarette market. In 2008, over 98 billion cigarettes were sold in India. The illicit cigarette trade is a growing problem and accounted for approximately 20 percent of total sales (legal and illegal) in 2008.

Bidi rolling in India is a cottage-based industry employing mainly women and children. Bidis outsell cigarettes by a ratio of eight to one (8:1) in India.

FCTC Status

India ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on February 5, 2004.

Tobacco Control Policy Status

Smoke-free environments: India has a national ban on smoking in indoor workplaces and public places. Hotels with more than 30 rooms, and restaurants and bars with a seating capacity of over 30 people are allowed to have designated smoking rooms. Enforcement and compliance levels vary by state and city. Enforcement and compliance levels vary by state and city.

Advertising, promotion and sponsorship: Tobacco advertising is banned in major media formats, and there are some restrictions on advertising at point of sale. However, size and advertising content restrictions at the point-of-sale are not enforced. Bans on indirect forms of tobacco marketing are also evaded.

Warning labels: Current graphic images are weak and do not convey the harms of tobacco use. Health warnings have been found printed on the back of the pack instead of the front as required and have been a smaller size the than the required 40% of the front principal display area. In March 2010, the government approved a new pictorial warning label but implementation has been delayed.

Tobacco taxes: Tobacco taxes on cigarettes are low. The majority of tobacco products consumed in India are non-cigarette varieties, such as bidis and smokeless products. These products are priced low. Bidis are taxed at lower rates than cigarettes and in some cases escape taxes altogether.

Updated: August 2013