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Taxation policy for tobacco industry under consideration

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 (17:06:40) Tags: Business, Taxation, Tobacco products New Delhi: The government is planning to introduce a new taxation policy to control the demand and supply of tobacco products in the country, officials said today. The health and family welfare ministry has begun talks with the ministries of labour, agriculture and finance to draft the policy. "As of now the discussion is at a very nascent stage and an inter-ministerial team will be formed to look into the matter soon," said B.K. Prasad, joint secretary, National Tobacco Control Cell in the health ministry. Prasad was speaking at the inaugural session of the first meeting of the Working Group of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in the capital. Delegates from 18 countries and officials from the WHO are taking part on the three-day meet to discuss economically sustainable alternatives to tobacco growing. FCTC is the only International Public Health Treaty negotiated under aegis of the WHO. India along with 168 countries has ratified the convention. Emphasizing that India is committed to bring down tobacco production as per the provisions of the convention, Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi said: "Apart from focusing on health dimensions of tobacco consumption, there is a need for concentrating on alternative livelihood for the millions of farmers and cottage industry workers who are engaged in tobacco related activities. "The tobacco lobby has used these two stakeholders to stall many serious steps to curb the tobacco menace in the country," Trivedi said. According to the ministry, over 20 million people are engaged in the tobacco supply chain in the country even as tobacco consumption kills about 900,000 people every year. Outlining the efforts to provide alternatives to tobacco growers, Trivedi said: "The ministry is collaborating with the Central Tobacco Research Institute and Directorate of Agricultural Research and Extension to establish viable, sustainable, alternatives to tobacco crops. "A draft for possible alternative economic solutions for people involved in the tobacco industry will be prepared based on the intensive discussion of the delegates here. It will circulate to member countries for their suggestions and we will meet again next year to discuss feasible solutions," said Ahmed E. Orwell, team leader of WHO-FCTC. (IANS)