BHOPAL (Madhya Pradesh): Youth associations from across the country including Madhya Pradesh have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to increase excise duty on all tobacco products, specifically cigarettes, bidis and smokeless tobacco in upcoming budget of 2022-23. National Youth Day is observed on January 12, which is the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanand.
Youths say increase in excise duty on tobacco products will make it unaffordable by the vulnerable (especially the youths) and reduce the economic burden it imposes, minimise discrepancies in taxation across different tobacco products and simplify the tobacco tax structure by reducing the number of tax tiers.
It can be a very effective policy measure to address the immediate need to raise revenue by central government. It will be a winning proposition for generating revenue and reducing tobacco use and diseases related to it.
They also recommended that the revenue generated by tax hike be used to shift tobacco farmers to other crops, provide an alternate livelihood to bidi rollers, tobacco vendors and others who might be affected by tax hike.
According to World Health Organization, raising price of tobacco products through tax increase is the most effective policy to reduce tobacco use. Higher tobacco prices decrease affordability, encourage quitting among users, prevent initiation among non-users and reduce quantity consumed among continuing users. The WHO recommends that share of excise tax for tobacco products should be increased to 75 per cent of retail price.
Dr Pradip Nandi, Director General, National Centre for Human Settlements and Environment, said, India is in the midst of third Covid wave and it should be noted that available research indicate that tobacco use increases the risk for severe corona infection, complications, and death. Increasing taxes on tobacco products will make killer products less affordable and fetch substantial revenue for the government, while also motivating millions of tobacco users to quit and preventing youngsters from initiating tobacco use.
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