Ashutosh Zunjarrao/WHO India

Tobacco is one of the major causes of death and disease in India, accounting for nearly 0.9 million deaths every year. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases including cancer, lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases and stroke. India is the second largest consumer and third largest producer of tobacco and a plethora of tobacco products are available at very low prices.

Nearly 275 million adults (15 years and above) in India (35% of all adults) are users of tobacco, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey India, 2009-10. The most prevalent form of tobacco use in India is smokeless tobacco and commonly used products are khaini, gutkha, betel quid with tobacco and zarda. Smoking forms of tobacco used are bidi, cigarette and hookah.

Tobacco use is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced and leads not only to human loss, but also heavy social and economic costs. The total economic costs attributed to tobacco use from all diseases in India in the year 2011 for persons aged 35-39 amounted to INR 104 500 crores (US$ 22.4 billion).