As part of ongoing efforts on tobacco control, Consumer VOICE with its state partners across India expressed disappointment regarding the treatment of tobacco under the Union Budget presented on 1 February 2017. The excise increase proposed on tobacco products in the 2017–18 Budget fell far short of even previous budgets, since the proposed increase in additional duties of excise and basic excise duties (BED) on various tobacco products amounted to an increase of only six per cent.
Taxation is adopted as the best tool to curb tobacco consumption all over the world. Consumer VOICE strongly recommends that tobacco products including bidis be taxed at uniformly high rates under the new indirect tax framework expected to kick in from the first of July. Bidis are the most commonly used tobacco product in India, accounting for 64 per cent of all tobacco consumption, and they are disproportionately consumed by the poor.
Bidis contribute to the majority of the 10 lakh deaths attributable to tobacco as well as the staggering economic burden caused by tobacco use. The main objective is to discourage consumption of tobacco products and thereby save millions of lives.