Tobacco use in the country has dipped significantly from 34.6% in 2009-10 to 28.6 percent in 2016-17, the second countrywide Global Adult Tobacco Survey showed. The survey, conducted by the Union Health Ministry and executed by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, has attributed the decline to the Centre’s tobacco control programme.

The government initiative included increasing the size of warnings on tobacco products to 85% of the packet size from the previous 40%, and the implementation of the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003.

The study showed that tobacco usage among minors aged 15-17 years has also decreased from 10% in 2009-10 to 4% in 2016-17. “This is a significant decline in the tobacco use in the country,” said Dr T Sundararaman, dean of the School of Health Systems, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

The study was conducted among people above the age of 15 years in 30 states and two Union Territories. A total of 74, 037 people were interviewed during August 2016 to February 2017.

The survey also showed that 19% of men, 12.8% of women and 21.4% of all adults surveyed currently use tobacco products including smoking and smokeless tobacco. Khaini and bidi were the most commonly used tobacco products. “The results are extremely encouraging and we should go forward in the direction (of tobacco control),” said JP Nadda, Minister of Health and Family Welfare.

The average age at which people start using tobacco products has increased by a year, from approximately 17 years in 2009-10 to 18 years in 2016-17. Further, the researchers said that 62% of cigarette smokers, 54% of bidi smokers and 46% of smokeless tobacco users had considered quitting because of the warning labels on the packets.