GUWAHATI, July 16 � The Voluntary Health Association of Assam (VHAA) has appreciated the hike in Value Added Taxes (VAT) on tobacco products as announced by the Assam Government. The State Government raised VAT on tobacco products from 13.5 per cent to 20 per cent recently.
Welcoming the increase in taxes on tobacco products, Ruchira Neog, executive secretary of VHAA, said, �By announcing an increase in VAT on all tobacco products, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has demonstrated his commitment towards safeguarding the health of people of the State, especially the youth from the growing menace of tobacco addiction.�
In a press release VHAA mentioned that the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India released by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in Oct 2010, revealed that about 39.3 per cent population of Assam uses tobacco products in one or the other form and amongst these, 8.8 per cent are cigarette smokers, 5.3 are bidi smokers and 33.0 per cent use smokeless tobacco.
Congratulating the Chief Minister, Dr AC Kataki, Director of Dr B Barooah Cancer Institute, said, �Consuming tobacco in any form is detrimental to an individual�s health, and has been shown to be a cause for many serious diseases. So measures like tax hike can help reduce tobacco consumption and can prove to be a life saver.�
Assam has joined the ranks of states of Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Delhi which have increased VAT on tobacco products in their Budgets for 2010-2011. Higher prices discourage youth from initiating cigarette smoking and encourage current smokers to quit.