Ban on all forms of tobacco demanded

The ban on the sale of smokeless tobacco has seen protests from various quarters, especially from the areca farmers.

With allegations of “bias against smokeless tobacco” growing, the Institute of Public Health (IPH) on Friday said it was against the use of tobacco in any form.

Addressing the media here, Dr Upendra Bhojani of IPH said, “Many believe that the ban on smokeless tobacco was biased and are questioning our stand on cigarettes and bidis. The fact is we would be glad to ban tobacco in all forms and save all those millions of lives. But a legal backing to initiate such a ban was available only for smokeless tobacco under the Food Safety and Standards Act.” 

One of the last states

He said Karnataka was one of the last states to impose the ban, and ample deliberation and discussions had taken place before taking the decision.

In Karnataka, 0.3 per cent of women smoke tobacco and 16 per cent chew tobacco, while just above one per cent of men smoke tobacco, 23 per cent chew it. These figures made the ban on smokeless tobacco effective, said Dr Pratima Murthy of Nimhans.The panel said it was demanding higher rates of taxation on other forms of tobacco to minimise their consumption. 

Dr Upendra proposed a higher tax rate on all tobacco products to curb its harmful effects on public health. 

“Bidis are not taxed in Karnataka and the rate of taxation on cigarettes is relatively low compared to other states. Rajasthan has shown positive results with a tax rate of 65 per cent on all tobacco products,” he said.

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