NGOs oppose Punjab move to reduce tax on tobacco

IANS| Updated: Jan 15, 2014, 04:35 AM IST
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Chandigarh: A proposed move by the Punjab government to bring down taxes on tobacco products in the state is being opposed by NGOs.

The Punjab government is mulling to roll back tax on tobacco products, which was increased to 55 percent last year, to 22 percent.

NGO Voice of Tobacco Victims project director Ashima Sarin urged the state government to protect people from tobacco products by increasing the VAT on tobacco products.

She said the Punjab government is trying to justify the tax rollback saying that last year's increase had led to illegal trade of tobacco products.

"Cancer relief funds cannot be generated by sending more people to become victims of tobacco and further be diseased. Illicit trade is a matter of weak enforcement by the government and stern action needs to be taken to reduce the illicit trade. Rolling back taxes is not the solution," Sarin contended.

She pointed out that even neighbouring Rajasthan had increased taxes on tobacco products to 65 percent.

Lawyer Amteshwer Kaur, who is associated with NGO Generation Saviour Association in Mohali, said that hundreds of children are getting initiated to tobacco use.

She said cancer cases were increasing in Punjab and the move by the state government would not help the cause to control it.