While the last 25 years have seen a 7-per cent decline in prevalence of smoking among women, there has been a rise in the smoking rate among teenage girls in the country, according to the findings of a study published online in The Lancet on Wednesday.
There has been at least a 56-per cent increase in prevalence of smoking among girls in the age group of 15 and 19 years in the last 25 years, according to the study in the renowned medical journal.
Among men, smoking rates have decreased by 40 per cent between 1990 and 2015 across the country, with the decline among boys in the age group 15 to 19 years being 17.1 per cent.
Worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, smoking prevalence decreased by almost a third (29.4 per cent) to 15.3 per cent in 2015. Today, one in four men (25 per cent) worldwide smoke, as do one in 20 women (5.4 per cent), it was found.
Despite these improvements, population growth has led to an increase in the overall number of smokers — up from 870.4 million in 1990 to 933.1 million in 2015, according to the latest estimates from the Global Burden of Disease study published online in The Lancet.
In India, where 11.2 per cent of the world’s smokers live, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) is being implemented and the creation of a National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in 2007 — has been rolled out in phases and currently covers about 40 per cent of all districts in India.
India, Pakistan and Panama stand out as three countries that have implemented a large number of tobacco control policies over the past decade and have had marked declines in the prevalence of daily smoking since 2005.
Commenting on The Lancet findings, Dr Srinath Reddy, president of Public Health Foundation of India, cautioned that study estimates were based on the number of people who smoked every day, rather than occasional or former smokers. It did not also take into account how many cigarettes a person smoked in a day, nor people who used smokeless tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, he wrote.
He also rued the aggressive marketing by tobacco firms due to which younger women and children were falling into the smoking trap. Monika Arora, public health scientist with PHFI too pointed out that smoking is not the principal form of tobacco use and despite the decline, smokeless tobacco use has to be tackled effectively.
“Oral tobacco use is widespread in the country and majority of the tobacco is outside the tax net or enjoys tax subsidy. For instance Khaini/Kharra/Mawa is the most commonly used form of smokless tobacco….While there has been some progress in enforcing the law, the gutka ban and other anti-tobacco laws need to effectively implemented,” Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, surgeon at the Tata Memorial Hospital , Mumbai said.
Meanwhile, more than one in 10 deaths worldwide (equivalent to 6.4 million deaths) are caused by smoking and half of these occur in just four countries — China, India, USA, and Russia. In 2015, 11.5 per cent of global deaths (6·4 million) were attributable to smoking worldwide, of which 52·2 per cent took place in four countries (China, India, the USA, and Russia). The new estimates are based on smoking habits in 195 countries and territories between 1990 and 2015, and illustrate that smoking remains a leading risk factor for death and disability.