Patna, Nov. 28: The state government is planning to introduce Value Added Tax (VAT) on bidi just like cigarettes.
At a high-level consultation programme on effective implementation of tobacco control measures organised by State Health Society, Bihar, today, senior officials pointed out that that smokeless tobacco consumption in the form of khaini (raw tobacco) in Bihar was the highest in the country.
“In Bihar, 53.5 per cent people consume tobacco and related products. Around 5.9 per cent people smoke cigarettes, 8.4 per cent are addicted to bidi and 49 per cent people are addicted to smokeless tobacco. At present, the government is contemplating to introduce VAT on bidi as its consumption is high too. In Bihar, there is almost 20 per cent VAT on cigarettes,” Sanjay Kumar, secretary of the health department-cum executive director of the health society said.
With the consumption of tobacco turning out to be the biggest of killers across the world, Kumar added that Bihar at present stood sixth in terms of tobacco consumption in the country.
“National Tobacco Control Programme, an initiative of the Centre, has been started in two districts — Patna and Munger. Each state government department has got a role to play to eradicate tobacco consumption and we seek their support. On May 30 this year, the state government banned sale, manufacture and purchase of gutkha for a year. Since then, gutkha worth more than Rs 1 crore has been seized across the state. A multi pronged strategy needs to be created and all departments must help,” the official said.
Emphasising on the role of the police or the home department had to play, Kumar said all police stations of the state should have “no smoking” signs as part of the initiative.
“For an effective ban on gutkha, some police officers should be deputed for the task. In areas like Samastipur, there are areas where kendu leaves are produced. The farmers there can be given the option for any alternative farming and the agriculture department can help in it. The tourism department can come up with an order for hotels and restaurants to have separate ventilated smoking room,” he added.