Neighbouring states like Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Jammu & Kashmir have increased VAT on tobacco products, professor of Surgical Oncology at Tata Memorial Hospital Pankaj Chaturvedi said here today, adding the Bihar government too has proposed to increase VAT to 57 percent this year.
He said that when prices of all commodities are going over the roof, the lowering of tobacco prices spoke volumes about the state government's commitment towards the health of people of Punjab and fight against cancer.
"Smuggling is flourishing due to weak enforcement and strict actions can be taken to tackle the issue instead of decreasing the VAT," he said.
He said that according to Global Adult Tobacco Survey of 2010, nearly 24 lakh of the adult population (15 years and above) of Punjab consumes tobacco product in some form or the other.
As per the Johns Hopkins experts, from these 24 lakh, nearly 9 lakh Punjabis will die prematurely due to serious illnesses such as cancer, heart diseases, he said.
Ashima Sarin, Project Director of the organization, said at the moment Punjab is a state of religious values where people could be discouraged to consume tobacco.
"Children are the major targets of the tobacco industry. Slowly and gradually the use of tobacco is reaching endemic level with over one million people annually die due to tobacco-related diseases in the country," she said.


Latest News from Punjab News Desk