Tax smokeless tobacco products uniformly: Docs
New Delhi: Shram, a self-help group with a large number of doctors and professionals working in the field of health and education to build awareness campaigns against tobacco and alcohol, has appealed to Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to introduce a uniform taxation on smokeless and other non-virginia tobacco products.
Shram also demands for bringing in proper regulation on sale of these smokeless and other non-virginia tobacco products as these are manufactured by the industry which is highly unorganised, evade taxes and forms more than 90 per cent of the total tobacco consumption in India.
The measures will not only help bring in revenue to the government in excess of Rs 40,000 crore but also help in reducing health burden of tobacco on youth and vulnerable citizens of our country.
According to a study published in BMC Medicine, India accounts for 70 per cent of the deaths globally caused due to chewing of smokeless tobacco which is widely available in the form of chewing tobacco, gutka, pan masala variants, zarda etc.
These products are consumed by the poorer section in India due to their affordability and accessibility in the absence of any regulations and taxation. Failure to bring them under the ambit of a uniform tax structure defeats the purpose of a tobacco control programme. Bringing in appropriate regulations and ensuring that all smokeless and non-virginia tobacco is taxed will not only fetch additional revenues to the government but will also reduce its consumption.
Appealing for introducing a regulatory framework for trading of smokeless tobacco, Mukul Bajpai of Shram said, "The debilitating state of the smokeless tobacco sector demands a regulatory structure akin to that in place for other tobacco products, he said."
Smokeless tobacco products and its various forms which make up 90 per cent of the tobacco consumed in India need to have uniform taxation. This largely unorganized and unregulated sector sees consumers of all age groups with the average age of tobacco consumers being as early as 17.4 years, according to Global Adult Tobacco Survey. Failure to tax smokeless tobacco and its forms uniformly defeats the purpose of the tobacco control programme.
"We humbly appeal to you to regulate the unorganized manufacturing, distribution and sale of smokeless and other non-Virginia tobacco in India to curtail its widespread consumption and bring it under a uniform taxation structure," Mukul said. (IANS)