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Health Advocates, Doctors Welcome Levy of Excise Duty on all Tobacco Products

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

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tobacco products, excise duty
Public health organisations applauded Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for bringing back excise duty on cigarettes, 'bidis' and smokeless tobacco. Pixabay

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 products, excise duty
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.

tobacco prodcuts, excise duty
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)

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UP CM Yogi Adityanath plans to use tiles with Images of Hindu Gods in Government offices to halt Spitting menace

Step to stop use of paan , guthka, tobacco products in public Spheres

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Yogi Adityanath, Wikimedia

Uttar Pradesh, April 7, 2017: After becoming the CM of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath has been taking quick actions regarding the governance of the state. Yet another action has been taken by the CM.

The authorities here have sought divine help to halt the spitting menace days after banning the use of paan, gutka and other tobacco products in all government offices.

Tiles with pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses have been put up in the corners and staircases of administration offices in the district to stop people from spitting betel juice, gutka there, mentioned PTI.

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Such tiles can be seen along the stairs of the Vikas Bhawan, which houses offices of the local administration.

Chief Development Officer TK Shibu said that there is nothing wrong in putting up these tiles at public places to keep check on the spitting menace.

“In the High Court too, such tiles have been fixed…we got the CCTV cameras installed and also deployed staff to check spitting, but it was of no use, and as an experiment we got these tiles of gods and goddess,” he said.

The step is expected to bring a permanent change in the behavior of people and government officials.It is assumed that the step will go a long way in saving the walls of government buildings from further stains.It is also contributing to the country wide “Swacch Bharat Abhiyan”.

However, the decision has not gone down well with certain local stuff and they are protesting against the decision.

Niswarth Seva Samiti handed over a memorandum to Shibu and warned of an agitation if the tiles are not removed from the state government establishments in 24 hours.

Similarly, social activist Salman gave a memorandum to the District Magistrate Karan Singh Chauhan, saying it is improper to use pictures of gods for such purposes.

It is to be seen whether the court will support the decision or not.

-prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram Twitter @NikitaTayal6