Focus on other tobacco products, not just cigarettes

New Delhi: 5.7 percent of India’s tobacco consumption is because of cigarettes, but chewing tobacco and bidis account for a huge 35 per cent, calling for government attention for safeguarding the health of millions of people.

This is evident from the latest statistics collected under the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) initiated by the Ministry of Health .

The pattern of tobacco consumption in India is unique and unlike elsewhere in the world, where on an average 90 percent of tobacco is consumed in the form of cigarettes, says the Tobacco Institute of India (TII). The differential consumption rate has been attributed mainly to the skewed taxation policy, as per the institute, as both types of tobacco — smoking or chewing — are equally injurious to health. According to TII, cigarettes account for 5.7 per cent of adult tobacco consumption, but contribute over 70 percent to total taxes collected from the tobacco sector.

“Taxes on cigarettes are about 150-260 percent of the ex-factory price. Cigarette taxes as a percentage of per capita GDP in India are one of the highest in the world and 16times that of other tobacco products,” TII director Udayan Lall said. As a result of the higher taxes and prices, the share of cigarettes in total tobacco consumption has gone down significantly over time. However, overall tobacco consumption in India is actually increasing. Global tobacco consumption patterns bear no resemblance to those in India, as even though tobacco is consumed in many forms here, the least popular are cigarettes.

However, government policies and the anti-smoking lobby incorrectly use this yardstick to review policy and taxes, TII said. International bodies funding anti-tobacco activities in India need to understand the findings of the GATS report, as their discriminatory focus on cigarettes has increased consumption of alternative tobacco products that are cheaper, of lower quality and revenue-inefficient. Furthermore, it has also supported the exponential growth of the black-market for cigarettes in every part of the country. This policy of higher taxation has led to a boom in the illicit cigarette trade. India now ranks 6th globally in terms of the volume of illicit cigarette trade. Black-marketing of cigarettes witnessed one of the highest growth rates of 57.7per cent in India during the 2004-2009 period.

TII is a representative body of tobacco farmers, tobacco exporters, manufacturers, trade and ancillary industries associated with the cigarette industry in India.

source: The Economic Times

Similar Posts:

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!