Health department seeks increase in tax on tobacco

Health department seeks increase in  tax on tobacco

The Department of Health and Family Welfare has written to the Department of Finance seeking an increase in the taxes levied on tobacco and tobacco-added products from the existing 27 per cent to 50 per cent, to bring down their consumption.

Speaking to Deccan Herald on the sidelines of state-level anti-tobacco workshop here on Thursday, Madan Gopal, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare department, said that hike in taxes had been sought but changes had to be brought at the policy-making level.

However, he added that the Finance department was of the view that an increase in taxes would only lead to an increase in “inflation” and not “avoidance.”

Releasing the handbook on “Effective implementation of Tobacco Laws,” Gopal said inter-departmental co-ordination was important to bring down tobacco consumption. “The Urban Development, Rural Development and Education and Social Welfare departments should cooperate with the Health department to make this happen,” he added.

He said the number of convictions mattered most rather than the number of cases booked. “Tobacco kills over 10 lakh people in India every year and this number is more than the deaths caused by TB, HIV and malaria put together,” he said.

Quoting from a study, he said that in the near future one in 10 people will suffer from cancer by the time he/she reaches the age of 75 years, if the current situation prevails. He said that 17 percent of world's population and 21 percent of the world’s adolescents live in India.

“A demographic report shows that the number affected by non-communicable diseases and lifestyle-associated diseases is alarming and there is a need for social legislation,” he added.

Dr Nevin Wilson, Regional Director, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, said tobacco consumption leads to cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and TB. “Karnataka is among the top 10 states in terms of tobacco consumption and stands seventh in smoking,” he said. 

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