About 16 percent of India's adult population smokes cigarettes, though the gender breakdown is amazingly uneven: 2.5% of the women and 29.4% of the men. (In the US, in contrast, more than 20 and less than 30 percent of both men and women). The Indian government now intends to eliminate most forms of tobacco advertising, according to this BBC report.
Sponsorship of sporting events by tobacco companies is already prohibited in India (and many other countries):
...the new rules would ban tobacco advertisements on television, radio and the print media.
A comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising has been called for by the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
With this ban, India will be the seventh country to ratify the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which was adopted unanimously by the World Health Assembly four years ago.
The WHO's current list of parties to the convention only lists five countries, however: Fiji, Malta, Norway, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka.
Incidentally, per capita cigarette consumption in India is much, much lower than in the US, well below what the difference in prevalence rates alone would lead one to suspect. Indians on average smoke 129 cigarettes per year, while Americans smoke some 2,255. Data on international tobacco comparisons are available here.
But do bans on advertising curb smoking? Turns out it is pretty difficult to answer that question by examining international data on changes in smoking prevalance, before and after bans have been introduced. Some studies have shown that advertising bans do reduce smoking, some don't whilst some depends on the breadth of the ban.
A recent piece by Jon Nelson, an economist at Penn State, tries to correct for some of the problems faced by previous studies. In particular, one complicating factor is that advertising bans do not just pop up at random. Rather, bans are likely to be adopted precisely at times when pro-smoking sentiment is in decline. Falls in smoking after an ad ban, then, may not be the result of the ban; the ban and the decline might both
be products of increased anti-smoking sentiment.
Nelson tries to account for this "endogeneity" of advertising bans, using data from 20 OECD countries for the years 1970-1995. He concludes that the results of previous studies finding that advertising bans reduce cigarette consumption are not robust to the correction for ban endogeneity.
Of course, one wouldn't want to base tobacco policy on a single econometric study, as the next study down the pike, employing different data or a different estimation procedure (or both) might come to the opposite conclusion. One thing that is clear is that smoking prevalence has declined very significantly in OECD countries in recent decades. In the US, Nelson reports,
male smoking prevalence declined from about 44% of the population in 1970 to 32% in 1985 and 26% in 1995...
Per capita consumption of cigarettes in the US was highest in 1963, the year before the renown Surgeon General's report.
Nelson's study includes in a footnote one amazing factoid. A complicating factor in using cigarette sales to determine the extent of cigarette smoking is that some people roll their own cigarettes. Surely roll-your-own cigarettes are but a small part of overall consumption, no? Well, it depends on what country you are considering. In most OECD nations, less than 10% of cigarettes are hand-rolled. But in 1995, in both the Netherlands and Norway, nearly half (46%) of the cigarettes were hand rolled! No word if this finding applies to all countries with names starting with "N".
2nd highest civilian award - Mahasweta Devi
Mahasweta Devi has received France's second highest civilian award. The ceremony was a media feeding frenzy, with photographers shoving each other aside and almost swamping the author, who is usually not amused by displays of this sort. She's unemotional about the award, too:
"I feel happy that my receiving an award has made some people happy, but as for myself I'm unmoved."