Industry Arguments: Increase of Beedi Consumption

From TobaccoUnmasked


Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC), in its annual reports after the year 2013, complained beedi consumption has increased. The reason highlighted is the increased cigarette price, reducing its affordability compared to beedi.[1][2][3] In the 2015 annual report, CTC presented a figure (Image 1) showing increased beedi consumption after 2007, the year following the enactment of the NATA act, without mentioning the population studied or the methods used to produce those results. According to the CTC, beedi consumption has doubled within 2 years (from 2007 to 2009) and stagnated around 40-45% after that, reducing the consumption of cigarettes to less than 60%.[1] Several media reports also came up with similar arguments, supporting the industry’s claim of “its the cigarettes that is losing the battle rather than the smoking”.[4][5][6]

Image 1: The graph on proportionate beedi consumption published by the Ceylon Tobacco Company in their Annual Report, 2015[1]

Contradicting Evidence

However, scientific evidence from other contemporary research shows contradicting results (Table 1). The studies referred to consisted of two national surveys (STEPS Survey and ADIC Spot Survey) and two district level surveys, of which one was conducted in an urban population (Katulanda et al, 2015) and one was conducted in a rural setting (Perera, 2015).[7][8][9][10]

Table 1: Proportionate prevalence of Cigarette and Beedi smokers(percentage from total smokers) reported in contemporary research[7][8][9][10]


All surveys in Table 1 reported methods and sampling measures ensuring representativeness.[7][8][9][10] The lowest percentage reported to use manufactured cigarettes from any survey was 82.4%, the finding reported by the STEPS Survey. However, it did not specifically report a figure on beedi consumption.[7] The survey conducted in Colombo among a younger group (15-18 years) reported the lowest proportion of beedi consumption (3.8%).[10] The survey conducted in Monaragala included individuals who smoked beedi irrespective of whether he smokes cigarettes or not in the beedi smoking category. It reported a figure of 23.5% for beedi use, a figure around half of what was reported by the CTC.[9]

Further, in a qualitative study conducted in six districts in Sri Lanka by the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC), in the year 2014, beedi producers and the retail sellers reported a decrease in both beedi production and sales over the past years.[11]

Other TobaccoUnmasked Resources

Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC)

The local language translations



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC. Annual Report 2015, 2016, accessed March 2017
  2. Ceylon Tobacco Company. Annual Report 2014, 2015, accessed March 2017
  3. Ceylon Tobacco Company. Annual Report 2013, 2014, accessed March 2017
  4. A. Hemmathagama. Who’s winning the battle against tobacco?, DailyFT, 26 May 2015, accessed March 2017
  5. S. Dambawinna. Beedi, cheaper alternative for the ‘poor man’, The Sunday Times , 27 July 2014, accessed March 2017
  6. MirrorBusiness. Tobacco use growing despite dip in cigarette sales: CTC, 10 March 2015, accessed March 2017
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Sri Lanka. Non-communicable Disease Risk Factor Survey, Sri Lanka 2015, 2016, accessed March 2017
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Alcohol and Drug Information Centre Spot Survey July 2015, 2016, accessed March 2017
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 K. M. N. Perera. Level of Empowerment for Tobacco Control and its Correlates among Individuals aged 15 to 59 years in the Monaragala District and Effectiveness of a Community Based Participatory Intervention for Tobacco Control in Palwatte PHI area, MD Thesis, Post Graduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo, 2015
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 P. Katulanda, I. K. Liyanage, K. Wickramasinghe, et al. Tobacco Smoking Among School Children in Colombo District, Sri Lanka, Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health 2015;27(2):NP278–NP287
  11. Alcohol and Drug Information Centre. A qualitative Study on beedi production and consumption In Sri Lanka, 2014, accessed March, 2016