Impose at least 50% VAT on tobacco products: Harsh Vardhan to states

n his bid to discourage smoking among youths, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has urged states and Union Territories to impose VAT of at least 50 per cent on all tobacco products to “make them less affordable”.
Vardhan’s communique to states comes soon after his request to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to effect a hike in prices of tobacco products in this year’s budget.
These steps will go a long way in discouraging tobacco use among the youth, Vardhan has reportedly said.
Citing a recent report which put the total economic cost attributable to all diseases caused by tobacco consumption at Rs 1.04 lakh crore, Vardhan stressed the need to discourage tobacco consumption for “reducing avoidable public expenditure”.
In his letter to Chief Ministers, Vardhan has used the example of Rajasthan where VAT (value-added tax) on tobacco products stands at 60 per cent.
Quoting a report, Vardhan said 80 per cent of deaths caused by non-communicable diseases are due to cardio-vascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory problems and diabetes, for which tobacco consumption is a major reason.

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