Policy Studies Harm Reduction

The Tobacco Landscape in India: An Argument for Harm Reduction

Key Points

India’s tobacco landscape is complex, with many combustible and non-combustible products available in both formal and informal markets.
Enforcement of tobacco products is inconsistent. For example, unregistered manufacturers of bidis, a type of hand rolled cigarette, avoid taxes and labor laws.
E-cigarettes and heat-not-burn tobacco products are banned in India, despite India having the second largest population of tobacco users in the world. A strong regulatory system that promotes healthier alternatives and mitigates tobacco harm is India’s best path forward.

Tobacco use in India is a persistent and multifaceted problem. About a third of the Indian population uses some form of tobacco. Combustible and smokeless forms of tobacco are popular in the country, and these products are available in an array of varieties. In an effort to decrease use, the Indian government has instituted a range of different tobacco control laws since the 1970s; however, implementation has proven inconsistent.

Given the large proportion of the population that uses tobacco, India is a prime location for applying tobacco harm reduction strategies. However, many reduced-risk tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, are banned in the country. By preventing access to alternative nicotine delivery systems, the Indian government has eliminated the chance of effective tobacco harm reduction in a country that needs to use all available means to decrease its smoking and tobacco use rates.

Press release: Why Harm Reduction is the Right Path Forward for India

Image credit: unknownshree

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