WHO claims that Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, three of India's next-door neighbors adopted better tobacco control strategies to curb deaths caused by tobacco.
Between 2008 and 2014 cigarettes became less affordable for public in Bangladesh and Pakistan. India, on the other hand, is among a few countries where more people can afford to buy the deadly white sticks.
While tobacco taxation has been found as the most efficient way to deter smokers, WHO said the bulk of the Indian bidi industry remains outside the tax net.
"In India, taxes are levied on bidis made by larger producers but not by small producers; as a result, bidi production in India has largely remained a small-scale cottage industry," says the 2015 WHO report.
Cigarette tax is just above 60 percent in India compared to over 75 percent in Bangladesh and 70 percent in Sri Lanka. "The governments need to tax all tobacco products in a manner that people do not opt out of one expensive product to a less expensive one. Currently, governments are levying much less tax on smokeless tobacco and regulations do not cover all aspects of smokeless tobacco, which is the main cause of oral cancer in the region," world body said.
Tobacco kills approximately 60 lakh people annually in the world, of which 20 percent live in the South East Asia region. In India, tobacco kills more than 10 lakh Indians every year and the number is rising.