Experts suggest increased taxation of tobacco products

New Delhi, Sep 5 (IANS) Experts Thursday advocated increased taxation of tobacco products as one of the principal ways to reduce their consumption.

Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) president Srinath Reddy said at a press conference here: "We want a taxation policy which really increases the prices of tobacco products."

Additional secretary in the health ministry C.K. Mishra said India was one of the first countries to focus on reducing the supply of tobacco to curb its use.

As part of this initiative, the government has held inter-ministerial consultations on growing alternate crops on lands where tobacco is grown.

There should be also an effort to provide alternate employment to farmers growing tobacco, Reddy said.

"Since tobacco also degrades the environment and contributes to food insecurity, action to reduce production and marketing of tobacco must now be vigorously pursued alongside effective implementation of demand-reduction measures," he said.

The experts said that with growing population there was also a need to grow more food and thus lands where tobacco was being grown can be used for growing more food crops.

Mishra said the government has roped in cricketer Rahul Dravid as the brand ambassador for its campaign against tobacco.

The government has already implemented a ban on "gutka" (chewing tobacco) in 33 states and union territories.

"We do not underestimate the huge challenge India faces. Enforcement is variable across the country but is improving day by day," he added.

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