In its recent effort to check tobacco consumption, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for increasing tax on tobacco products."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," said Dr Nata Menabde, WHO, India It is essential to devise a comprehensive tax policy for all tobacco products, making it less affordable over time, thereby reducing its consumption and prevalence, Menabde said."A tax increase that raises prices of tobacco products by 10 per cent is estimated to reduce tobacco consumption by 4-5 percent," she added.India ranks second in global tobacco consumption 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, as per WHO estimatesAccording to a report of Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), almost 50 per cent of cancers among men and 25 per cent among women are related to tobacco use in India and the total economic cost of tobacco-related diseases in India was a whopping estimate of 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.Inputs from PTI
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