This paper examines the various issues surrounding tobacco use in India, using National Sample Survey and other data. The study demonstrates that 150 million Indians used tobacco in 1998 and that during the 1990's, the prevalence increased for both rural and urban areas, as well as in both sexes and in all age groups. Such large numbers have staggering implications for the country's economy, health outcomes and resources, and the magnitude of tobacco control challenges. Bidis hand-rolled cigarettes remain the most commonly used form of tobacco. However, major differences in rates and types of tobacco used were seen among various sex, age, economic and social class groups, suggesting that public health efforts to reduce consumption will require focused initiatives to target various populations and products.