Background: Population prevalence of tobacco smoking especially with reference to detailed habits such as the amount smoked, the smoking forms, quit-rates and relationship with demographic variables were studied at four different centres in India along with the study on epidemiology of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Methods: The study population included adults of over 15 years of age selected with two-stage stratified random sample design. A specifically designed questionnaire was used for the study.
Results: There were 11496 (15.6%) ever smokers in the study sample of 73605 subjects. Among 37682 males, 10756 (28.5%) were ever smokers and among 35923 females, 740 (2.1%) were ever smokers. Bidi was the commonest form of smoking, more so in the rural areas. The mean number of cigarettes/bidis smoked per day was 14 (+/- 11.5) and the mean age of starting smoking was 20.5 (+/- 20.0) years. Increasing age, low socio-economic status and rural residence were important factors associated with smoking. Vigorous anti-tobacco measures under the tobacco control programmes yielded only a quit-rate of 10 percent. Nearly 14% of ever smokers had some respiratory symptoms.
Conclusions: A substantial proportion of population in India has current or past smoking habit with higher prevalence among males than females. The quit-rates have been low in spite of the various anti-tobacco measures. There is a significant respiratory morbidity associated with smoking.