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Updated: May 30, 2014 04:12 IST

Harsh Vardhan to push for raising tobacco taxes

Special Correspondent
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A tax increase that would raise the price of tobacco products by 10% would reduce tobacco consumption by 4 - 5%, Dr Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India, estimated.

Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday that he supported higher taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products. Having seen the impact of tobacco on patients he had treated as a doctor, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that he was particularly sensitive to the issue. He was speaking at the release of a report on the economic burden of tobacco-related diseases in India based on research conducted by the Public Health Foundation of India, and supported by the Ministry and the World Health Organisation.

A tax increase that would raise the price of tobacco products by 10% would reduce tobacco consumption by 4 - 5%, Dr Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India, estimated.

The report estimated the economic costs attributable to tobacco use from all diseases in India in 2011 for people aged 35-69 at over Rs. 1 lakh crore, or 1.16% of GDP. Cardiovascular disease was the biggest contributor (Rs 3,600 crore) followed by respiratory diseases, tuberculosis and cancer. Among the 13 states which were part of the study, Uttar Pradesh faced the highest healthcare burden followed by West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Men contributed to 91% of the total economic burden, the study found.

To estimate the costs, the researchers considered the direct costs of treating tobacco-related diseases, the indirect costs arising from illness and the indirect costs of premature deaths from tobacco-related diseases.

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