On the eve of World No Tobacco Day, stake holders fighting against tobacco-induced cancer in Assam approached the state government seeking a rise in taxes on tobacco to make it unaffordable. The Dr B Borooah Cancer Institute and Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHAA) today urged the state government to raise the taxes on tobacco to levels that reduce tobacco consumption. Almost 40 per cent of the non-communicable diseases, including cancers, cardiovascular diseases and lung disorders are directly attributable to tobacco use resulting in 10 lakh deaths every year in India, Government Cancer Hospital's Head of the department Professor Dr B K Das said here today.
If the current trends continue and if effective steps are not taken to control tobacco consumption, he said, it is estimated that by 2020 tobacco use will account for 13 per cent of all deaths in the country every year. Stating an estimated Rs 10,000 crore worth gutka and paan masala is sold in the country annually, the Institutes Associate Professor Dr Ashok Kumar Das said due to low cost, easy availability, attractive packaging, aggressive marketing, innocent adolescents and youths were becoming addicted to them.
Though the Assam government recently banned all forms of smokeless tobacco in the state, another oncologist of the Institute Associate professor Dr T Rahman said the government needed to increase tax on smoking tobacco as it was observed that the number of smokers has begun to increase. On World No Tobacco Day, created by the member states of the World Health Organisation in 1987, every year to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption across the globe, Neog said.