Oncologists from 108 cancer centers led by Tata Memorial Center plead Prime Minister to put all tobacco products, including bidis in the category of demerit goods

New Delhi, Alarmed by the media reports that bidi may be exempted from the demerit good category and additional cess, Oncologists from India’s 108 cancer centers came together to plead honorable Prime Minister to stop this serious anomaly in proposed GST structure. Needless to say that bidi alone kills 6 lac Indians every year. 
It was reported by the media that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to chair a meeting of government officials to review the fitment of items in tax slabs before these go to the all-powerful Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council for the final approval. The Rajya Sabha had recently cleared the integrated, central and Union Territories GST Bills and compensation Bills after the Lok Sabha passed it earlier. The next step for the GST Council is to clear the fitment of various commodities and services into five slabs. It has been reported by the media that Bidi is unlikely to be in the slab of demerit goods category. Hence, the oncologists of India (under the banner of National Cancer Grid) took this unprecedented step of raising their collective voice as a final salvo.
यह भी पढ़िए :प्रभारी मंत्री की मौजूदगी में करौली विधायक ने सांसद पर लगाए रिश्वत खोर के आरोप
The National Cancer Grid (NCG) is a large network of 108 cancer centres, research institutes, patient groups, professional societies and charitable organizations from across India and works towards uniform quality of cancer care throughout the length and breadth of India. It is estimated that approximately 600,000 patients with cancer are treated annually in the NCG centres, which amounts to 60% of all patients with cancer in India.
Dr RA Badwe, Directror, Tata Memorial Center mentioned in his letter “Tobacco taxation in India is much lower than what the level recommended. GST is a golden opportunity to correct the historical aberrations in tobacco taxation in India.  In the interest of citizens of India, especially future generations, we sincerely urge you to put all tobacco products, including bidis in the category of demerit goods in the proposed GST structure and rates.”
R.Venkatraman, Managing Trustee of Tata Trusts said “The human and financial losses due to tobacco are staggering. The battle against cancer cannot be won unless we curtail tobacco addiction in the society. For the benefit of future generation, we must stop this manmade disaster that is number one preventable cause of non-communicable diseases.”
He said “Tobacco kills every third user prematurely and unfortunately every third Indian adult uses some form of tobacco. India witnesses about 10 lac deaths from tobacco-related diseases each year. Nearly 40% of the cancers in India are attributable to Tobacco usage. High taxation will certainly curb this epidemic”

Dr.Harit Chaturvedi, Chairman, oncology Department, Max Hospital said “considering the political clout of the Bidi lobby, honorable Prime Minister is our only hope. He has already expressed his strong anti-tobacco sentiments in various platforms. I am sure he would take steps to save bidi workers and rollers from centuries of exploitation by the tobacco lobby”
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