Consumer VOICE in its effort to control tobacco menace has been working closely with the government and other state partners. With the budget round the corner and the new Finance Minster taking charge, Consumer VOICE has urged the members of the GST Council to retain tobacco products as demerit goods at the highest tax rate of 28% plus cess under GST. In its letter to all the states and the Ministry, Consumer VOICE has applauded the government’s initiatives of keeping cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in the highest tax slab. The GST council should maintain the high taxation as it will discourage the consumption of tobacco among all especially among the youth. Consumer VOICE has also appealed to the members of the GST Council to include Bidis as a “sin” product under GST. Bidis are equally harmful as cigarettes and almost10 lakh deaths are reported in India every year due to consumption of bidi. Tax burden on bidis post-GST is only 22% compared to 53% for cigarettes and about 60% for smokeless tobacco.
India has the largest number of tobacco users (268 million or 28.6% of all adults in India) in the world – of these at least 12 lakh die every year from tobacco related diseases and one of the best ways to discourage use of tobacco is by increasing the price of tobacco and tobacco related products.
Keeping this in mind, Consumer VOICE has written a Letter to the Finance Minister requesting for her kind support on public health issues like controlling of tobacco menace.
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