The finance minister’s move to increase in specific excise duty on cigarettes by about 18% has left smokers fuming, but passive smokers have welcomed it.
While the hard-wired smokers feel that the hike in excise duty will burn a larger hole in their pockets, those on the verge of quitting the habit feel the extra burden will motivate them to kick the habit.
“It will only give a handle to the neighbouring cigarette seller to hoard his stock and raise the prices right away,” says Abishekh Kiran, a marketing engineer.
But, non-smokers feel that since the excise duty hike this force smokers to buy fewer cigarettes, and help bring down passive smoking.
“We non-smokers welcome the finance minister’s move. As it may cut down passive smoking,” said Balaji Nagraj Gupta, a senior manager presales in a software company.
Welcoming the hike, doctors feel that a ban on tobacco products would have been better.
Dr BS Ajaikumar, Chairman, HCG, said: “It good that there is an increase in the union budget for healthcare, which will benefit the public at large and the tax increase on tobacco products is a good move. Health problems from tobacco use are on the rise. Money generated from the tax should be used solely on health.”
Worldwide, such initiatives have shown positive results. A study conducted by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, US some time ago showed that boosting cigarette taxes could help in reducing smoking.
But, smoking is not the only method of tobacco intake in India. Hence some felt that the hike in duty makes little sense.
“Of every 100 oral cancer patients we get, nearly 70% are tobacco users. But, most chew tobacco and don’t smoke. This means that increase in tobacco excise duty itself would have been better,” said Dr RP Deo, head and neck oncology surgeon, BGS hospital.