Tobacco epidemic grips Indian youth: KPMG report

KPMG Report Exposes Consumption of Tobacco among 49% of Young Adults, Calls for Collaborative Tobacco Control Measures

New Delhi: According to a recent report by KPMG Assurance and Consulting Services titled “Human-Centric Approach to Tobacco Control,” India is grappling with a significant burden of tobacco-related diseases, leading to a loss of approximately 1% of the GDP annually.
The report of the 2023 survey reveals alarming statistics regarding tobacco use among the 20-44 age group, with an estimated 49% of respondents admitting to consuming tobacco in both smoking and oral forms.
Dr. Narender Saini, Former General Secretary of the Indian Medical Association, emphasized the detrimental impact of tobacco use, “Tobacco use affects both the health and economy. The burden of tobacco-related morbidity and mortality has been on the rise. Respiratory ailments, cardiovascular diseases and various forms of cancer dominate the landscape, claiming lives prematurely. The economic ramifications are equally profound. Families grappling with the consequences of tobacco-related diseases face financial hardship, often pushing many households into poverty. It is worrisome to see men in their prime age report with major lung impairment due to tobacco use and it is sad that some of these bread-winners succumb to lung diseases.”
India faces a significant challenge with high rates of both smoking and oral tobacco use, with an estimated 250 million smokers aged 16 to 64 as of 2018, ranking it as the world’s second-largest consumer of tobacco. However, legally produced cigarettes represent only 8% of overall tobacco consumption, with the remaining 92% comprised of cheaper alternatives like Bidis, Chewing Tobacco, and Khaini. Furthermore, the report highlights the growing issue of illicit cigarette trade in India, valued at Rs 22,930 crore according to a 2022 study by FICCI Cascade. The tobacco industry has incurred significant losses for the Indian government, amounting to Rs 13,331 crore in 2022 alone, representing a 46% increase from 2012.
Dr. Chhavi Gupta, DM – Infectious Disease, Senior Consultant at Yashoda Super-Specialty Hospital, Kaushambi, Ghaziabad emphasized, “Efforts should be made to harness the power of technology that can amplify outreach efforts”. Further adding, “There should also be an enhanced focus on making Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) affordable and accessible.”
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recognized the significance of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products in tobacco control by including them in the National Tobacco Control Program. Additionally, over 15 states have implemented bans on the manufacturing and sale of oral tobacco products, signaling progress in tobacco control efforts.
The KPMG report underscores the urgent need for comprehensive measures to tackle the pervasive issue of tobacco consumption in the country, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between government agencies, public health experts, regulators, healthcare practitioners, support groups, and other stakeholders to develop innovative and effective harm reduction methods and alternatives.