Modi hints at higher taxes on tobacco products

Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said here on Wednesday that taxes would be hiked on tobacco products and pan masala in a bid to discourage their use as they cause cancer. Stressing the need for an intensive campaign against the use of tobacco and tobacco products, he said an inter-departmental committee would be set up for reducing their use.

He urged health minister Ashwini Kumar Chaubey to launch a programme for school students where they could take pledge against the use of tobacco and its products. Modi was addressing an interactive programme, ‘Voice of Tobacco Victims’, at which cancer-affected patients and their family members described their plight due to use of tobacco. They also demanded a stringent policy for tobacco control and ban on sale of tobacco and its products as per the provisions of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2003.

The programme was organized jointly by Cancer Awareness Society (CAS) and Healis-Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health. Former DGP and national president of CAS T P Sinha made a fervent appeal for government action for checking the use of tobacco and its products as their use caused cancer and claimed one lakh lives every year in Bihar, and to implement the COTPA Act. He referred to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2010 report that 53.5% of adult population in Bihar used tobacco products in one or the other form.

Health minister Ashwini Kumar Chaubey said that the financial loss caused by tobacco-triggered cancer to the affected families and society was five times more than the tax revenue generated by sale of tobacco and its products. Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, an oncologist from Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, said that 90% cancer patients reaching him were tobacco users and 50% of them were from Bihar. More than two crore people in Bihar were tobacco users and one crore of them may get affected by cancer, he said, adding that only 20% of cancer patients survive as 90% cancer patients reach hospitals at an advanced stage. IGIMS director Arun Kumar stressed on checking use of cancer as “prevention is better than cure”.

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