According to a study by the American Cancer Society and US-based research firm Vital Strategies, over 6.25 lakh Indian children smoke cigarettes every day – a sign of a serious public health threat.
The study claimed that 17,887 Indian lives are lost weekly to consumption of tobacco. However, this number is less than the average deaths caused by tobacco smoking in medium Human Development Index (HDI) countries.
The magnitude of revenue generated by leading tobacco companies
The study – called the Global Tobacco Atlas – also found that the combined revenue of six of the world’s largest tobacco companies in 2016 was more than $346 billion, which is roughly equal to 15% of India’s gross national income.
Although the number of children smoking in India is lesser than the average in medium HDI nations, the study found that over 4,29,500 boys, and 1,95,500 girls smoke cigarettes daily in India.
Meanwhile, the study found that over 9,03,42,900 Indian men, and 1,34,66,600 Indian women smoke cigarettes daily.
17,10,94,600 Indians use smokeless tobacco – a sign of dire threat to public health.
The tobacco industry is more powerful than many small nations
“The industry is a powerful force that does not fear actions of smaller nation-states because of their extensive resources and global market power. Larger economies and nations have the opportunity to help the smaller allies face down this threat,” said the study, urging policy action.
The study, which was released last week, also found that 82.12 billion cigarettes were produced in India in 2016.
It also claimed that the economic cost of smoking in India – accounting for both direct expenses related to health-care, and indirect expenses arising out of low productivity resultant of early mortality and morbidity – amounts to a whopping Rs. 18,18,691 million!