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Doctors, economists and public health advocates have hailed the ongoing efforts of the Indian government on tobacco taxation and called for augmenting the efforts to achieve revenue and public health goals.

They welcomed the levy of excise duty on all tobacco products in the Union Budget 2019-20. Public health organisations applauded Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for bringing back excise duty on cigarettes, ‘bidis’ and smokeless tobacco.

They said levying excise duty on all tobacco products and retaining these in the highest tax slab in GST will ensure tobacco products do not become more affordable. This will provide a solid foundation for reducing tobacco usage among vulnerable populations and have a long-lasting impact on the lives of the country’s 268 million tobacco users.

Tobacco kills more than 1.3 million people each year in India, home to the second greatest number of smokers in the world behind China. Pixabay

“Even though this being a nominal increase, it sends the right message that the government is serious about reducing tobacco consumption by making it less affordable. WHO recommends that total tax burden on all tobacco products should be about 75 per cent of retail price. Therefore, there is still enough room to increase taxes on any tobacco products in India to reach the recommended rates by the WHO,” said Bhavna B. Mukhopadhyay, Chief Executive, Voluntary Health Association of India.

Most of the GST compensation cess on cigarettes is specific in nature and had not been revised for the past two years. This has significantly eroded the real value of tax and has made cigarettes, ‘bidis’ and smokeless tobacco products highly affordable, threatening to undermine the progress in reduction of prevalence of tobacco consumption in India.

“The government should bring uniform taxes on all bidis just like cigarettes and remove exemptions given to less than 2 million units and handrolled bidis,” said Dr. K Srikanth, Secretary, Indian Dental Association.

Hookah smoking is addictive and can lead to the use of other tobacco products such as cigarettes. Pixabay

“The re-introduction of central excise duties on tobacco products will pave the way for replacing compensation cess on these products under the GST as they expire in the coming three years. Hopefully, the government will revise these duties periodically to keep the affordability of tobacco products under check as the GST rates on these products remain fixed,” said Dr Rijo John, economist and health policy analyst.

ALSO READ: Banning e-cigarettes But Not Tobacco is Contradictory: Industry

Refuting the industry claims that tobacco farmers are suffering due to tax increase as being unfounded and highly misleading, these public health organisations and physicians have said that if the industry is genuinely representing farmers’ interests, they should be ready to part with a higher share of their profit margins to farmers instead of exploiting them and increasing its own profits.

Tobacco kills more than 1.3 million people each year in India, home to the second greatest number of smokers in the world behind China. Approximately, 130 million people aged 15 and older in India currently smoke and roughly half of all adults are exposed to second-hand smoke at home. (IANS)



Surgeons attached a pig kidney to a pair of large blood vessels outside the body of a deceased recipient so they could observe it for two days, and the kidney did what it was supposed to do.

Scientists temporarily attached a pig's kidney to a human body and watched it begin to work, a small step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for lifesaving transplants.

Pigs have been the most recent research focus to address the organ shortage, but among the hurdles: A sugar in pig cells, foreign to the human body, causes immediate organ rejection. The kidney for this experiment came from a gene-edited animal, engineered to eliminate that sugar and avoid an immune system attack.

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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Killer Smog in Delhi.

Developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a Decision Support System (DSS) that extends the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in Delhi-NCR was launched on Tuesday.

The website for the DSS ( is designed to help the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) by delivering quantitative information about the contribution of emissions from Delhi and its 19 surrounding districts; the contribution of emissions from eight different sectors in Delhi; and the contribution from biomass-burning activities in the neighbouring states.

These information would assist in managing the air quality in a timely manner, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.

The need was stated by the CAQM, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, during a meeting held in January 2021.

Recently, the Commission reviewed the progress made by IITM and had in principle approved the current version of DSS for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR. The IITM has also developed a new website for DSS with the entire system made operational, the release said.

Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, while launching the website for AQEWS on the occasion of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' week organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, "DSS is a significant contribution to 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' on behalf of MoES and IITM and suggestions are invited on this issue."

The website also has a feature whereby the users can create their own emission reduction scenarios (from 20 different districts, including Delhi) so as to examine the possible projected improvement in air quality in Delhi for the next five days.

"This information would explicitly highlight the most important emission sources responsible for the degradation of air quality in Delhi and suggest possible solutions to ameliorate the same. With a plethora of quantitative data, the AQEWS integrated with DSS could become a user-friendly tool for air-quality management in and around Delhi," the release said. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Delhi, India, Pollution, IITM, Ministry of Earth Sciences

Photo by GOI.

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020. Apart from senior RSS leader Suresh Soni, representatives of various organisations associated with the Sangh Parivar -- working in the field of education -- were present in the meeting in New Delhi.

According to sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who attended the meeting on behalf of the government, shared information related to the National Education Policy-2020 and the government's policy on important issues related to the education sector. Pradhan also shared details of the efforts being made by the government in the field of education.

Discussions were also held regarding the impact of the situation arising out of Corona and how much it has affected the education sector. In the meeting, the RSS leaders asked several questions and provided suggestions to the Union Minister regarding the education policy of the government.

According to the sources, RSS wants the policy to be implemented expeditiously. All aspects related to the policy were discussed in Tuesday's meeting. On the second and the last day of the meeting on Wednesday, special issues related to education will be discussed in which representatives of various organisations of the Sangh, Union Ministers and several BJP leaders will be take part.

Meanwhile, in order to convey its point of view to the government on various issues, the Sangh keeps on calling such coordination meetings related to specific issues, in which RSS representatives -- working in that particular area -- provide feedback to the government. (IANS/JB)

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