India spends 1% of GDP every year on tobacco: Study

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prevalence of tobacco smoking

A report by KPMG Assurance and Consulting Services report titled Human-Centric Approach to Tobacco Control has revealed that India loses precious 1 per cent of the GDP every year due to diseases and early deaths from tobacco use. As per KPMG 2023 survey on tobacco consumption, about 49% respondents in this age group consume tobacco in both smoking and oral form. As per the reports, there is an alarming prevalence of tobacco smoking among 20-44 age group in India. 

Dr Narender Saini, Former General Secretary of the Indian Medical Association, said, “Tobacco use affects both the health and economy. The burden of tobacco-related morbidity and mortality has been on the rise. Respiratory ailments, cardiovascular diseases and various forms of cancer dominate the landscape, claiming lives prematurely. The economic ramifications are equally profound. Families grappling with the consequences of tobacco-related diseases face financial hardship, often pushing many households into poverty. It is worrisome to see men in their prime age report with major lung impairment due to tobacco use. And it is sad that some of these bread-winners succumb to lung diseases.”

India also faces a dual challenge with both, smoking and oral tobacco use. With 250 million smokers between the ages of 16 and 64 as of 2018, India has the second highest number of tobacco users, says the report. This is because in India, legally produced cigarettes account for just 8% of the overall tobacco consumed, the remaining 92% of consumption is in the form of cheaper tobacco products such as bidis, chewing tobacco, khaini among others.

Another issue is that the trade of illicit cigarettes is gradually picking up in India. According to a 2022 study by FICCI Cascade, the illegal cigarette market in India is worth Rs 22,930 crore. The total loss incurred by the Indian government due to the illicit tobacco industry stood at Rs 13,331 crore in 2022, witnessing a 46 per cent increase from 2012.

The report says that the way forward in the battle against tobacco consumption entails a holistic and collaborative approach involving all stakeholders — producers, consumers, regulatory agencies, public health professionals and support groups.