Steadfast in their commitment to protect the health of the people, the Government of Punjab took a landmark decision to increase taxes on tobacco products to 55% last year but this year’s budget, the Government has proposed to rollback taxes on cigarettes from 55% to 22%. The reasons being quoted in media are increase of illicit trade due to which tobacco consumption has increased besides Cancer relief funds are hurt due to less revenue & taxation department is now contemplating a proposal to lower the VAT on cigarettes to propel a rise in sales and thus ensure greater funds for cancer relief. GSA urged the Government to protect the people of Punjab from the harmful effects of tobacco products by increasing VAT on tobacco products. Cancer relief funds cannot be generated by sending more people to become victims of tobacco and further be diseased. Over 10 lac Punjabi’s will die (premature deaths) due to serious illnesses. Everyday 5500 children in India are initiating tobacco use which is very alarming and According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS 2010) released in Oct 2010, nearly 24 lakh of the adult population (15 years and above) of Punjab consumes tobacco product in some or the other form.
As the partner NGO of the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease implementing project “Advancing tobacco control in Punjab through advocacy, capacity building and enforcement of tobacco control laws” funded by Bloomburg Initiative (BI) in Punjab on grass-root level. Series of workshops can be planned at State, Zonal and District level to empower the enforcers with in- depth understanding of various provisions of the law, its enforcement process and ill effects of tobacco on human health. Informal sensitisation meetings or workshops can be arranged for the different stakeholders regarding the importance of Smoke Free Environment and legal obligations.