Releasing a Health Ministry and World Health Organisation report on the economic burden of tobacco in India, Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan Thursday said he is in favour of raising taxes on tobacco products and would take up the matter with the Finance Ministry soon.
“I am in favour of raising taxes on tobacco products and will take up the matter with the Finance Ministry. But it is also important to deliver a powerful social message. We need to motivate schoolchildren to become anti-tobacco messengers. We need to convince tobacco users of the grave ill effects of its consumption,” Vardhan said.
Raising taxes on tobacco products is also one of the recommendations in the report, which states tobacco products should be taxed keeping in mind factors such as demand, inflation and changes in household income. Vardhan also unveiled a print advertisement featuring Rahul Dravid, India’s brand ambassador for tobacco control. The report, ‘Economic burden of tobacco related diseases in India’, was developed by the Public Health Foundation of India. It estimates direct and indirect costs from all diseases caused due to tobacco use and four specific diseases — respiratory diseases, tuberculosis, cardiovascular diseases and cancers.
The total economic costs from tobacco related diseases in India in 2011 stood at Rs 1,04,500 crore — 1.16 per cent of the GDP and 12 per cent more than the combined state and central government expenditure on health care in 2011.