'Two steps back and one step forward' moment for UP's VAT on tobacco products?

[हिंदी] Uttar Pradesh state government had raised VAT on tobacco products to 50% in July 2012, but then reduced it to 25%. Now VAT has been increased to 40% on tobacco products: "Is it 'two step back and one step forward' moment for UP when alarmingly high number of tobacco-related cancer cases in Tata Memorial Hospital come from our state?" questioned Rahul Dwivedi, Director of Vote For Health campaign of Asha Parivar.

According to the latest data of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for UP state, bidi smoking in men was 5 times more than those who smoke cigarettes (20.1% bidi vs 4.1% cigarette) whereas bidi smoking was nearly 18 times more popular than cigarette smoking in women. Overall bidis (12.4%) were 5.5 times more popular than cigarettes (2.3%). Rahul said "When beedi smoking is many times more than cigarette smoking, then why has not VAT been increased on Beedi as well?"

Raising tobacco taxes is an evidence-based public health measure and the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which India has ratified more than a decade ago, also supports measures to increase taxes for advancing public health.

Dwivedi appeals to the UP government to increase VAT on all tobacco products and not exclude beedi from this list.

UP government's decision to ban sale of loose cigarettes was welcomed by range of civil society organizations such as Vote For Health campaign, Asha Parivar and Socialist Party (India).

Citizen News Service (CNS)
23 September 2015