"Raising taxes is one of our strongest weapons to fight out tobacco. It is the most cost-effective way of reducing tobacco use. Essentially, as tax goes up, death and disease go down. Raising taxes on tobacco is a win-win situation. It is good for people's health and good for the economy," WHO representative to India Dr Nata Menabde said on the eve of World No Tobacco Day.

There is a need to develop a comprehensive tax policy for all tobacco products, making it less affordable over time and thereby reducing consumption and prevalence, Menabde said.

"A tax increase that raises prices of tobacco products by 10 percent is estimated to reduce tobacco consumption by 4-5 percent," she added.

According to WHO estimates, India is the world's second largest consumer of tobacco products (after China), with an average of 9 lakh people in the country losing their lives every year due to tobacco-related diseases.

Several others suffer from ailments like cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases and diseases of gums and oral cavity.

Almost 50 percent of cancers among men and 25 percent among women are related to tobacco use in India, as per a report of Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).

The total economic cost of tobacco-related diseases in India was an estimated Rs 30,833 crores in 2002-03.     

The most prevalent form of tobacco usage is smokeless tobacco like gutka. Other commonly consumed tobacco products include cigarettes, bidis and cigars.


Latest News from India News Desk