India sees 36% rise in male smokers as cigarettes replace the traditional bidis

The age group of these new entrants is between 15-29 according to a new study published in a health journal

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: If recent reports are to be believed, anti-smoking campaigns do not seem to have enlightened Indian men on the bad effects of smoking, as the country has witnessed 36% rise in male smokers in the last 17 years.

The age group of these new entrants is between 15-29 according to a new study published in a health journal. Moreover, the study found that Indians have replaced the traditional bidi, which was till now the inexpensive and smaller version for cigarettes.

The study's author Dr. Prabhat Jha has urged the government to increase tobacco taxes in its new budget. Previous research by the expert has shown that this is the only effective intervention to prevent future smokers and lower the smoking rate.

As per Times of India reports, in the year 2010, smoking caused about 1 million deaths in India with approximately 70% of those deaths occuring between the ages of 30 and 69, said a press release. The study also found the number of men smoking any type of tobacco at ages 15-69 years rose by about 29 million, or 36 %, from 79 million in 1998 to 108 million in 2015, representing an average annual increase of about 1.7 million male smokers.

Times of India further went on to quote Dr Jha, who said that, "Cigarettes are steadily displacing traditional bidis. By 2015, there were roughly equal numbers of men ages 15-69 years smoking cigarettes or bidis: approximately 61 million Indian adult men smoked cigarettes (40 million exclusively) and 69 million smoked bidis (48 million exclusively).”

The study also found: "The highest prevalence of any smoking in men aged 15-69 years was in illiterate men in both 1998 and 2010. Among illiterate men, the prevalence of cigarette smoking rose most sharply, by about 3.6 times. By contrast, among men with Grade 10 or more education, the prevalence of bidi or any smoking fell, but still rose modestly for cigarettes.''

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