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 Places: In India, smoking is completely banned in many public places and workplaces such as healthcare, educational, and government facilities and on public transport. The law, however, permits the establishment of smoking areas or spaces in airports, hotels having 30 or more rooms, and restaurants having seating capacity for 30 or more. It is possible for sub-national jurisdictions to enact smoke free laws that are more stringent than the national law.

Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship: Direct advertising through many forms of mass media is prohibited, but tobacco companies still may advertise at the point of sale, subject to some restrictions. The law also does not ban explicitly advertising on international broadcast media. To the extent that the recipients of funds provided by the tobacco industry promote tobacco products, its trademarks or brand names, such actions are prohibited by law. The law, however, does not appear to prohibit general sponsorship by the tobacco industry that does not involve the promotion of tobacco products.

Tobacco Packaging and Labeling: Health warning labels are pictorial and text, cover 40 percent of the front panel of the package, and must be rotated every 24 months. There is ban on the use of misleading descriptors (including, among others, “light,” “ultra-light” and “low-tar”) and associated graphics or product design features. There is no requirement for qualitative statements about constituents and emissions.

Tobacco Taxation and Prices: The World Health Organization recommends raising tobacco excise taxes so that they account for at least 70 percent of retail prices. Tobacco excise taxes in India are well below these recommendations.

Updated: India 2014