Half of the smoking population in the country thinks smoking "within limits" is harmless, a survey by a private general insurance firm has found.
"Half of the smokers continue smoking as they feel doing so within limits does not lead to health issues," the survey, 'ICICI Lombard Smoking Habits 2013', said.
A large portion of respondents (77 per cent) felt that smoking or limited puffing of cigarettes will not have any adverse impact on their health.
The survey had a sample size of 914 habitual smokers from Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore in the 18-35 age-group, who smoke at least once a day.
The findings of the survey were today released on the eve of 'World No Tobacco Day'.
The survey revealed that around 67 per cent of the smokers started the habit between the age of 16 and 20 years.
"Friends or peers is the most important influencer to start smoking (87 per cent). Another key factor is work pressure", the survey said.
While Mumbai leads the pack with 32 per cent (of the respondents there) smoking on an average 7-10 cigarettes a day, Kolkata has 29 per cent puffing out 4-6 cigarettes a day.
Bangalore has 43 per cent of respondents smoking 2-3 cigarettes a day on an average and Delhi has the lowest with 35 per cent limiting their average consumption to just one stick a day.
With reference to kicking the habit, the report said, "While will power has been cited as the key motivator, 22 per cent respondents in Mumbai and 32 per cent in Kolkata said support of the family and friends is a big factor."
A large number of smokers in Delhi (29%) and Bangalore (31%) felt a counsellor with regular monitoring will help them quit the habit.
As to the claim analysis done by ICICI Lombard for the last two years, the company said 5 per cent of the total cancer claims were tobacco-related.
"Of these, 75 per cent were claims made by male customers", it said.