Smoking a cause of 100 million deaths in 100 years: Study

New Delhi: Nearly 45 trillion bidis and cigarettes manufactured over the past 100 years in the country are expected to be responsible for nearly 100 million deaths of adult Indians, a recent study has found.

"Our calculations are derived from using the most conservative estimates and yet present mortality estimates which are significant and alarming," researchers Pranay G Lal, Nevin C Wilson and Prakash C Gupta said in a study published in Current Science.

While Lal and Wilson are associated with the South-east Asia office of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Gupta is with the Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Navi Mumbai.

The study concluded that of the estimated 100 million deaths due to tobacco use, smoking bidis alone contribute to 77 million deaths.

The researchers have pressed for an urgent review of tobacco control interventions and re-examination of policies that promote the tobacco industry in India.

They said since it takes three to four decades for a smoker to die after he starts smoking, the current tobacco use was expected cause deaths only in the coming decades.

"For consumption in the last four decades, the mortality may be partially realised and some of the deaths will occur in near future", they said.

"Since the bulk of manufacturing and consumption occurred in the latter part of the last century, the early deaths of these smokers will happen in the first half of this century."
The study has estimated that there were about 190 million and 41 million lifetime bidi and cigarette smokers, respectively, in the country from 1910-2010.

"So in effect, if we were to cease all production and consumption in 2010, deaths would continue to take place. Less than one-fourth of the deaths from 100 year of smoking (from 1910-2010) have already taken place, and the three-fourths of the deaths will take place in the next 40 years", the study said.

The researchers have reviewed 23 data sources including industry reports, trade and academic journals, paid internet databases, repositories and reports prepared by market research firms from 1920 to arrive at the estimated number of cigarettes manufactured over the last 100 years.

To derive total bidis produced, they used total bidi tobacco produced in India using data from the Ministry of Agriculture and divided it by the average tobacco contained in each bidi. These estimates were compared with 14 other sources.


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