Deep-Down of The Tobacco Companies in India

Tobacco Companies in India


The tobacco companies in India kill their best customers. Yet, they are as significant as ever.

This might sound strange unless you let the numbers speak for themselves.

Tobacco Companies in India: Contributions

  • India is the second-largest tobacco producer and third-largest exporter, earning ₹4,400 crores in foreign exchange in 2022.
  • USD 100+ million came only through cigarette exports in 2022. 
  • Tobacco makes for about 4% of the total agri exports. 
  • The tobacco industry supports 36 million livelihoods (6 million farmers & 20 million farm laborers). 
  • Tobacco contributes ₹14,000 crores to excise revenue (10%+ of total excise revenue collection).


Tobacco Companies in India: Trends

  • In 2024, India’s Tobacco Products market is set to hit US$13,370.0 million, growing at 4.49% annually.
  • Cigarettes lead with US$13,370.0 million in 2024.
  • Compared globally, China tops at US$298,500 million.
  • Per capita revenue in India is projected at US$11.09 in 2024.
  • Online sales aim for a 7.1% market share by 2024.

Data Courtesy: STATISTA

Tobacco Use and Health Impacts

  • India has over 267 million tobacco users aged 15+ (29% of the population). 
  • Tobacco use causes over 1 million deaths per year in India (11% of all mortality).
  • Smokeless tobacco is the most prevalent form (21.4% of adults use it), causing a third of India’s oral cancer cases.
  • The economic burden is over $27 billion per year – more than 8 times the excise revenue the government receives from tobacco.

Policy Initiatives & Tobacco Ban

  • Comprehensive tobacco control law (COTPA) in place since 2003/04, banned smoking in public places, advertising, and sales to minors.
  • The “85% Graphic Health Warnings” announced in 2014 but rolled out slowly due to industry interference – litigation, and front groups.
  • Ban on e-cigarettes introduced in 2019 citing youth uptake concerns.

Growth Factors For Tobacco Companies in India

  • The rising cultural acceptance of tobacco consumption in India, especially among the rural population and the youth.
  • The increasing number of tobacco users (around 300 million), accounts for one in three adults.
  • The inflating consumer disposable incomes make tobacco products more affordable and accessible.
  • The addictive properties of nicotine create a dependence that drives continued tobacco consumption.

Challenges For Tobacco Companies in India

  • The strict government regulations, high taxes, graphic warnings on cigarette packages, and bans on advertising and promotion.
  • Launch of public health campaigns and awareness initiatives that highlight the dangers of tobacco use and encourage quitting.
  • The potential ban on tobacco usage in some countries may affect India’s reputation as the third-largest tobacco exporter.
  • The competition from foreign companies, which offer cheaper and better quality products. 

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Tobacco Companies in India: History

Used by the Mayans in their religious rituals, tobacco burst onto the scene in 3500 BC. However, the world outside the American continent knew about it only in the late 16th century, thanks to the European colonist, Sir Walter Raleigh. History credits Portuguese colonists with introducing tobacco cultivation in India in 1605. Modern-day Gujarat’s Kaira and Mehsana districts were the first tobacco cultivation sites in the subcontinent.

Here’s a little trade secret from the 17th century: tobacco was the go-to barter commodity for trading textiles. The British East India Company later promoted it for local use and global trade. To this end, they came up with the Calcutta Botanical Gardens in 1787 to improve tobacco quality. Then in 1903, the Imperial Agricultural Research Institute (ICAR) rolled into town to further tobacco research.

The world got its first tobacco company, Philip Morris, in 1847. However, India had to wait 63 years to get its first when Imperial Tobacco Company of India Limited came up in 1910. The company changed to India Tobacco Company Limited in 1970 and to I.T.C. Limited in 1974. With time, the tobacco company diversified into a full-fledged FMCG company. Come 1930, Hyderabad Deccan Cigarette Factory and VST Industries burst onto the scene, taking the count of tobacco companies in India to three.     

Tobacco Companies in India: Products

The Indian tobacco companies have a lot to offer, from regular cigarettes to chewing tobacco. Whether you like to smoke, chew, or sniff, there is something for your unique preferences and budget. Let’s walk you through all your options.



Cigarettes Thin sticks, usually packed in packs of 10s & 20s; the classic smoke.
Bidis Hand-rolled, flavored, and sometimes adorned with colorful threads; the artisanal & economical smoke.
Snuff (Naswar) Finely ground tobacco, either sniffed or tucked between the cheek and gum – a discreet way of consuming tobacco 
Chewing Tobacco A variety of products, including Gutka, Khaini, Mawa, Qiwam, Zarda, and betel quid with tobacco
Hukka (Water Pipe) A traditional water pipe for smoking tobacco, often flavored, uses a charcoal heat source.
Chilam (Clay Pipe)  A clay pipe for smoking tobacco, providing a traditional and artistic touch.
Chchuta (Reverse Smoking) A unique form of smoking where the lit end of the cigarette is placed inside the mouth.
Paan-Masala A mixture of areca nut, slaked lime, catechu, and other flavorings; often used with tobacco.

Top Tobacco Companies in India:

Now that you have a hang of the history, trends, and offerings, it’s time to explore the biggest tobacco companies in India. They are not just about smoking but also about livelihoods and economies. Millions of farmers, farm workers, and professionals work for them to cultivate, process, distribute, and sell tobacco products. Even if you are looking to diversify your investment portfolio, these tobacco brands can serve your purpose. 

Spoiler Alert: The Indian tobacco market is a playground for the top 4 companies that control 98% market. Plus, all these tobacco companies are listed in NSE, BSE, or both. 

1. ITC Limited:

  • Founded: 1910 
  • Previously: Imperial Tobacco Company of India, Indian Tobacco Company   
  • Business Areas: Tobacco, food processing, retailing, financial services
  • Market Leadership (India): Biggest Cigarette Brand by Market Cap & Revenue
  • Market Leadership (Global): 5th Biggest Cigarette Brand by Market Cap
  • Manufacturing Locations: Bengaluru, Munger, Saharanpur, Kolkata, & Pune
  • Export Presence: 90 countries  

Make way for the oldest and the biggest tobacco company in India, which commands a 75% volume share.  ITC came into being in 1910 as the Imperial Tobacco Company of India when two British tobacco majors, Imperial Brands and W.D. & H.O. Wills, merged. In 1974, the company was renamed the Indian Tobacco Company and later, ITC Limited. As of 2024, it is the largest FMCG company in India with a revenue of US$9.8 billion, an operating income of US$3.2 billion, and a market cap of US$75 billion. ITC manufactures and markets all types of cigarettes in all cigarette sizes, from economy brands to luxury options.

Read More: Complete ITC Cigarette Brand List

All ITC Cigarette Brands: 

Insignia India Kings Classic Gold Flake American Club
Wills Navy Cut Players Scissors Capstan Berkeley
Bristol Flake Silk Cut Duke Royal

Other ITC Brands: 

Classmate Sunfeast Yipee Noodles Aashirvaad Rice
Sunfeast Yipee Pasta Dark Fantasy Aashirwad Atta

2. Godfrey Phillips India Ltd

  • Founded: December 03, 1936
  • Parent Company: Modi Enterprises                                 
  • Business Areas: Tobacco Manufacturing, FMCG 
  • Market Leadership (India): 2-nd Largest tobacco company (INR 11,503.91 Cr Market Cap)
  • Manufacturing Facilities: Rabale (Mumbai), and 2 units in Ghaziabad (UP)
  • Retail Chain: Twenty-Four Seven (convenience products and services)
  • Product Range: Cigarettes, Confectionery, Tea, Pan Masala
  • Export Presence: Over 80 countries

When it comes to the top tobacco companies in India, Godfrey Phillips is right there in the second spot. The company has a pan-India presence with 800+ distributors, 8+Lac retailers, and 6000+ salespeople, and exports to 80+ countries as well. Besides owning some of the top cigarette brands, the company also manufactures chewing tobacco, tea, confectionery, and vapes. Godfrey Phillips recorded INR 44.252 billion in revenue, INR 7.896 billion in operating income, INR 6.083 billion in net income, and total assets of INR 45.384 billion in 2022. It also manufactures and distributes Marlboro in India under a license agreement with Philip Morris International Inc. since November 6, 2003.

All Godfrey Phillips Cigarette Brands:   

Four Square Cavanders Red & White
North Pole Stellar Tipper
Marlboro: Owned by Philip Morris and sold in India by Godfrey Phillips India

Other Godfrey Phillips Brands: 

Funda Goli (candy) Tea City (tea) Pan Vilas (Pan masala) Verge (Vapes) 

3. VST Industries:        

  • Founded: 1930 
  • Previously: Vazir Sultan Tobacco Company Limited
  • Market Leadership (India): 3-rd Largest tobacco company with a Market Cap of Rs 5,699 Crore 
  • Manufacturing Facilities: One each at Hyderabad and Toopran (Telangana) 
  • Product Range: Cigarettes, Unmanufactured Tobacco
  • Export Presence: Over 80 countries

What started as the Vazir Sultan Tobacco Company in 1930 emerged as one of the top 10 tobacco companies in India. Initially, British American Tobacco (BAT) indirectly pulled the strings through three subsidiaries – The Raleigh Investment Company Ltd., Tobacco Manufacturers (India) Ltd., and Rothmans International Enterprises Ltd. They together held 32.16% of VST Industries Ltd. Changed to VST Industries Limited in 1983, the company has some top cigarette brands, notably Charminar and Shah-I-Deccan. In 2022, the company raked in US$117 million in annual revenue. 

All VST Cigarette Brands:

Total Editions Charms Special Moments
Charminar Shah-I- Deccan Vazir Qila
Ambassador Total Active Mint Total Royal Twist Specials

4. NTC Industries

  • Founded: 1931 
  • Headquarters: Kolkata, West Bengal
  • Business Sectors: Tobacco, Real Estate, Hospitality
  • Manufacturing Facilities: A state-of-the-art facility at Kolkata
  • Market Cap: INR 122 crore (as of January 2024)
  • Market Leadership: 4th largest Tobacco company licensed for all FMCG products 
  • Product Range: Cigarettes, Unmanufactured tobacco, Matchboxes, Incense Sticks
  • Export Presence: Several Countries across Asia and beyond

Since 1931, NTC has been one of the oldest and largest tobacco companies in India with a market cap of INR 122.78 Cr. History credits NTC with introducing India’s first filter cigarette, 100mm cigarette, menthol cigarette, hinge-lid packs, and female cigarettes. Besides Class ‘A’ packed cigarettes, the company manufactures and exports lifestyle products to Brussels, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Luxemburg. NTC also sells some globally recognized cigarette brands like 555, Classic, and Newport in India. 

All NTC Cigarette Brands: 

MayPole Jaipur Golden Prestige
Macpole Royal King FX GOLDMANS
Fine Cut Elpatron Patroncito DOS

Other NTC Brands: 

Agardeep (Agarbatti)  R’ GENT (Matchbox)

5. Golden Tobacco Ltd

  • Founded: 1930
  • Headquarters: Vadodara, Gujarat, India  
  • Parent Company: Dalmia Group (since 1979) 
  • Product Range: Cigarettes, Cigars, Slim Cigarettes, Cigarillos
  • Market Cap: INR 97 crore (as of 2024)
  • Export Presence: USA, Russia, Middle East, Far East

Established in 1930, Golden Tobacco is an Indian-owned tobacco company associated with cigarettes, flavored cigars, cigarillos, roll-your-own mixtures, and non-tobacco smoking products. It is India’s largest exporter of machine-made cigars, shipping to the USA, Europe, Russia, Singapore, Cambodia, Japan, and the Middle East. if you can buy Rothmans and Pall Mall in India, thank Golden Tobacco. As of 2023, the company’s market cap of INR 97.99 crores makes it one of the top Indian tobacco companies. 

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All Golden Tobacco Cigarette Brands: 

Chancellor Panama Style Esquire
Flair June Just Black Rothmans

6. Sinnar Bidi Udyog Ltd

  • Founded: 1974   
  • Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra                                  
  • Workforce: Over 6 million workers, primarily women
  • Services: Processing services and by-products for other brands
  • Market Listing: Bombay Stock Exchange                                   
  • Market Cap: INR 29.43 crore (as of November 2023)  
  • Export Presence: N/A

We associate Sinnar Bidi Udyog Ltd with hand-rolled, low nicotine and low tar, and 100% natural bidis available across India and beyond. Burst onto the scene in 1974, the company employs a staggering 6 million workers, predominantly women, across the value chain – from rolling and cultivating to processing. Sinnar does not manufacture; instead, it outsources it to workers’ cooperative societies. The company’s market cap stands strong at INR 29.43 crore and annual revenue at INR 23.67 crore as of 2023.    

All Sinnar Bidi Udyog Brands

Sinnar Bidi Special Bidi Gold Bidi

Pros and Cons of Investing in Tobacco Companies in India 

Suggested Reading: Women’s Choice: Best Female Cigarette Brands in India


That was my take on the tobacco companies in India. But hold your breath because here’s the reality check – tobacco is a bit of a troublemaker. It’s a major culprit behind chronic diseases like cancer, lung issues, heart problems, and strokes. It’s like a silent assassin, causing around 1.35 million deaths every year in India alone. So, while tobacco has this long and fascinating history in India, it’s also been a health menace.

On that note, stay informed, stay worldly wiser!

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