“In 2015, out of 11·5 per cent (6.4 million) of deaths due to smoking globally, 52·2 per cent took place in four countries, including India, the US, Russia and China,” as per the study.
Around 64% of smokers world wide live in these 10 countries, including India, China, Indonesia, US, Russia, Bangladesh, Japan, Brazil, Germany and the Philippines.
The study also pointed out that there has been a significant increase in smoking in teenage girls in India. The past 25 years have seen a 56 per cent increase in the smoking habits of girls within 15 to 19 years.
Surprisingly, there has been a decrease in the number of people who smoke worldwide, from a 29.4 per cent in 1990 to 15.3 per cent in 2015.
Dr Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India, said that the study only counted those who smoke daily and did not count occasional smokers or those who have quit smoking.
“It did not also take into account how many cigarettes a person smoked per day, nor those who used smokeless tobacco products such as e-cigarettes,” he added.
The study also appreciated that India, Panama and Pakistan have effectively worked for tobacco control through various policies, which has resulted in a decrease in smoking since 2005.
“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 and mawa is the most commonly used form of smokeless tobacco….While there has been some progress in enforcing the law, the gutka ban and other anti-tobacco laws need to effectively implemented,” said Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, surgeon, Tata Memorial Hospital , Mumbai.
“There is a widespread notion that the war on tobacco has been won, but I think our evidence shows that we need sustained efforts because the toll of smoking in 2015 is much larger than most people would think, so we have a lot more to do. We need new and improved strategies to do wage the war on tobacco and also a lot of political will,” said Dr Emmanuela Gakidou, an author.