This study provides national estimates of regular tobacco and alcohol use in India and their associations with gender, age, and economic group obtained from a representative survey of 471,143 people over the age of 10 years in 1995-96, the National Sample Survey. The national prevalence of regular use of smoking tobacco is estimated to be 16.2%, chewing tobacco 14.0%, and alcohol 4.5%. Men were 25.5 times more likely than women to report regular smoking, 3.7 times more likely to regularly chew tobacco, and 9.7 times more likely to regularly use alcohol. Respondents belonging to scheduled castes and tribes (recognized disadvantaged groups) were significantly more likely to report regular use of alcohol as well as smoking and chewing tobacco. People from rural areas had higher rates compared to urban dwellers, as did those with no formal education. Individuals with incomes below the poverty line had higher relative odds of use of chewing tobacco and alcohol compared to those above the poverty line. The regular use of both tobacco and alcohol also increased significantly with each diminishing income quintile. Comparisons are made between these results and those found in the United States and elsewhere, highlighting the need to address control of these substances on the public health agenda.