Head and neck cancers are common in India and account for about 30% of cancers in males and about 13% in females. In males, oral cavity and pharynx are the commonly affected site, followed by larynx. In females, oral cavity is the preponderant site. Reliable data on incidence rates from several cancer registries in India is compared with selected data from the United States and France. A wide variety of tobacco habits prevalent in the country are primarily responsible for the occurrence of these cancers. Among them, bidi smoking, tobacco chewing, and cigarette smoking, in that order, account for a large majority of these cancers. In addition, alcohol and some aspects of the Indian diet have been suspected to contribute to this number of head and neck cancers. The government of India has accorded a high priority to prevention of tobacco-related cancers by the turn of the century in its National Cancer Control Programme.