A health advocacy group in Jammu and Kashmir today demanded that a higher tax should be imposed on all tobacco products to discourage people from consuming it as 26.6 per cent population in the state uses the products in one form or the other.
J&K's monthly spending on smoking tobacco outstrips the national monthly expenditure averages.
While nationally, smokers aged 15 and above spend Rs 399.20 a month on cigarettes and Rs 93.40 on bidis, those in J-K spend Rs 513.60 and Rs 134.20 respectively on them, Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), quoting a Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) report, said.
It said as the state of Jammu and Kashmir continues to spend more on tobacco products than the monthly national average, there is a need for a higher tax rate on all tobacco products so as minimise the adverse impact of smoking on public health.
The higher taxation on tobacco products will have a direct bearing on the consumption of tobacco products in J&K as 26.6 per cent population in the state is using tobacco product in one or the other of its form, the VHAI said.
It said tobacco use imposes enormous health and economic burden on the people.
Each year, almost one million Indians die from tobacco-related diseases.
The total direct and indirect cost of diseases attributable to tobacco use was a staggering Rs 1.04 lakh Crore (USD 17 billion) in 2011 or 1.16 per cent of the country's GDP. Tobacco-attributable direct medical costs alone are around 21 per cent of national health expenditure.
The costs of tobacco are far greater than what the Indian government or states gain in tobacco excise revenue (just 17 per cent of total health cost), the VHAI said.
It said it is well known that tobacco and tobacco products are globally recognised as "sin goods" on account of their serious adverse impact on public health.
Practically all major countries in the world subject tobacco products to high rates of consumption taxes with a view to garner additional revenue on one hand and discourage its use on the other.
Higher taxes are particularly effective in reducing tobacco use among vulnerable populations, such as youth, pregnant women, low-income smokers and chewing tobacco users, VHAI said quoting Assistant Professor, IIT Jodhpur and an expert on tobacco taxation Dr Rijo John.
It has come to light that the highest proportion of adults (67.9 per cent) exposed to tobacco smoke in offices are in J&K and the lowest (15.4 per cent) are in Chandigarh, VHAI said.
It said the new GST regime should ideally act as a deterrent to the consumption of health hazard causing substances such as Cigarettes, Bidis and other tobacco forms through higher taxes.
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