Civil society appreciates JK Govt for increasing taxes on tobacco products
It is pertinent to mention that the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India 2009-10 released by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) Govt of India has found that 26.6% population of J&K uses tobacco products, in one form or the other. J&K has 12% cigarette smokers, 3.8% Bidi smokers and 8.0% use smokeless tobacco.
In his Budget speech, Abdul Rahim Rather, Minister of Finance, Government of Jammu & Kashmir categorically stated that as a part of the health protection measures, he had announced in the last year budget a couple of tax measures to curb the menace of smoking and other forms of tobacco consumption. He had announced an increase in Toll on the import of raw tobacco from Rs. 150 per quintal to Rs. 250 per quintal and increase in VAT from 13.5% to 25% on the sales of cigarettes and other related products. The monitoring of imports and sales of raw tobacco and cigarettes during the current financial year, up to the third quarter, had revealed that the actual imports have not increased so far, even though they do not show any declining trend over the previous year’s import figures. He has proposed to continue with his anti tobacco campaign, started last year and announced a further increase in the rate of VAT from 25% to 30% in the year 2012-13.
Welcoming this increase in taxes on tobacco products, Ms. Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, Executive Director, VHAI in her statement said, “By announcing an increase in VAT on all tobacco products, the J&K Government has demonstrated tremendous commitment towards safe guarding the health of people of Jammu & Kashmir and protecting the masses, especially the youth from the growing menace of tobacco addiction. This praise worthy step will go a long way in saving lakhs of lives and also reducing the Government spending on treating tobacco related diseases”.
It has been proved several times over through various surveys and studies that the increase in taxes brings down tobacco consumption. An increase of 10% in tax makes about 3% of cigarette smokers and 9% of Bidi smokers quit smoking. It also has a ‘reining in’ effect by curtailing new entrants into the vicious circle of tobacco consumption. If the number of tobacco-users is reduced, there will be less expenditure by the government on tobacco related diseases. One rupee spent on tobacco products means Rs. 16 spent on diseases that crop up from using this dreaded menace.
Congratulating the State Government’s decision A.M.Mir. IAS (Retd), Executive Director, JK VHADA said, "Consuming tobacco in any form is detrimental to an individual’s health, and has been shown to be a cause for many serious diseases so measures like tax increase that can help reduce tobacco consumption can prove life savers. Raising tax is not burdening the consumer but it decreases the tobacco consumption.”
Consumption of tobacco and tobacco products is injurious to public health. Hundreds of people lose their lives due to cancer caused by smoking. This menace has to be checked by education of the public. Apart from the government efforts and legislative measures, the role of the voluntary social organizations in launching campaigns against smoking needs to be encouraged as well.
Tags: Civil Society , JK Govt , Taxes , Tobacco , Products
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