Tobacco use is associated with accelerated mortality among adults especially in low- and middle-income countries, where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest. More than 1 million adults die each year in India due to tobacco use accounting for 9.5% of overall deaths. India faces a dual burden of tobacco use in the form of smoking and smokeless tobacco. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) conducted in 2016–17, the overall prevalence of smoking tobacco use is 10.38% and smokeless tobacco use is 21.38% in India. Of all adults, 28.6% currently consume tobacco either in smoke or smokeless form, including 42.4% of men and 14.2% of women.

Different types of harmful effects of smoking


Smoking causes most lung cancers and can cause cancer almost anywhere on the body. This includes the mouth and nose, throat and voice box, oesophagus, blood cells, liver, stomach, kidney, pancreas, mucinous ovary, ureter, cervix, colon and bladder.

Breathing problems and chronic respiratory conditions

Smoking is the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a serious, progressive and disabling condition that limits airflow in the lungs. Active smoking also worsens asthma in active smokers and is associated with an increased risk for asthma in adolescents and adults.

Heart disease, stroke and blood circulation problems

Smoking is major cause of cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease and stroke, and cardiovascular disease is one of the major causes of death for both men and women. Smoking increases the risk of blood clots, which block blood flow to the heart, brain or legs. Some smokers end up having their limbs amputated due to blood circulation problems caused by smoking.

People who smoke have more heart attacks than people who don’t smoke. They are also more likely to die from a heart attack at a younger age, even in their 40s.


Smoking causes type 2 diabetes. The risk of developing diabetes is 30 to 40% higher for active smokers compared to non-smokers. Smoking can also worsen some of the health conditions related to type 1 diabetes, such as kidney disease, eye disease and poor circulation which can lead to gangrene.


Smoking weakens your immune system so you’re more likely to get bacterial and viral infections.

Smoking reduces blood flow in your body, so wounds can take longer to heal.

Dental problems

Smoking increases the risk of gum diseases, tooth loss and tooth sensitivity. Once a person has gum damage, smoking also makes it harder for their gums to heal.

People with dental problems can find it harder to chew and swallow, which can lead to poor nutrition and further health issues.

Hearing loss

Smoking reduces blood flow to the inner ear. It can also cause irritation and swelling to the Eustachian tubes (the tubes which connect the back of the nose with the middle ear) resulting in pain and infection.

Smokers may lose their hearing earlier than a non-smoker.

Vision loss

Smoking damages the eye and can lead to macular degeneration – the main cause of blindness in Australia.

Fertility Issues

Parents-to-be take note: Smoking can affect your ability to conceive. It causes reduced fertility in women and can contribute to other problems during pregnancy.

Osteoporosis and menopause

Smoking is a risk factor for osteoporosis – a condition that weakens your bones and makes them more likely to break – and in women, may result in early menopause compared to a non-smoker.