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Let GST reduce cancer risk

Doctors and bidi victims welcomed the decision to categorize all tobacco products including bidis as demerit goods, taxing them at the highest tax rate at 28% under GST.

Taxing bidis, cigarettes and chewing tobacco products at the highest GST rate will not only discourage the consumption of tobacco products but will also increase revenue collections for the government.

“Categorizing all tobacco products at the highest GST rate, including bidis, is one of the boldest and most impactful public health decisions that central Government has taken to protect the health of its citizens from the growing menace of tobacco addiction.

Taxing bidis at 28% will prevent death and disease not only amongst millions of bidi users, but also amongst bidi workers who are mostly women and children,” said Dr. Ashok Kumar Das, Associate Professor of the Head and Oncology, Dr. B. Barooah Cancer Institute, Guwahati.

He also urged the Government not to succumb to the tobacco industry pressure to lower the tax slab on bidis and requested the GST council to levy additional cess on bidis so that it becomes even more inaccessible for the poor man. It is to be mentioned that the pro bidi lobby is trying to create a myth that bidis are safe and poor man’s only pleasure.

“By taxing bidi at the same rate as cigarettes and chewing tobacco, the government has assured that millions of bidi users will quit and millions of youth and children will be prevented from initiating tobacco usage,” Dr. Das added.

“The government's bold decision to tax bidis at the highest level gives us courage and confidence that the real voice of bidi victims has been heard and that the government is serious in addressing the enormous health harms that are faced by users,” said Chajal Kanti Das Purakasthya of Silchal, a throat cancer survivor.

Mr. Purakasthya was diagnosed with throat cancer due to his habit of smoking bidis and cigarettes.

Bidis are the most commonly used tobacco product in India, accounting for 64% of all tobacco consumption and 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. Of relevance here is a 2008 report published by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

“We have seen how he and our family have suffered due his habit of smoking bidis and cigarettes. We sincerely urged that the Government to continue to tax all tobacco products including bidis at the 28% GST so that no more families like us suffers in future,” said Ratna Purakasthya daughter of Chajal Kanti Das Purakasthya.

Oncologist and anti-tobacco activist Dr. Vishal Rao said “We cannot go on subsidizing death for the poor, and justify low taxes for bidis which is one of the most preventable causes of death in India for rural poor. By keeping bidis in the demerit goods category of GST, Government has demonstrated tremendous commitment towards safe guarding the health of poor in India and protecting them from the growing menace of tobacco products. This praise worthy step will go a long way in saving lakhs of lives and also reducing the Government spending on treating tobacco related diseases.”

According to the study on Economic Burden of Tobacco Related Diseases in India, the total economic costs attributable to tobacco use in Assam amounted to Rs 541 crores in the year 2011 for persons aged 35-69, of which 47% was direct medical costs and 53% was indirect morbidity costs.


The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India 2009 – 10 by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) reveals that about (39.3%) population of Assam is using tobacco product in one or the other of its form. Assam has 8.8% cigarette smokers, 5.3% bidi smokers and 32.7% use smokeless tobacco.

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Amarjyoti Borah's picture

Amarjyoti Borah is a National Foundation for India (NFI) media fellow.

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Website on Srimanta Sankaradeva launched

2 Jan 2012 - 8:29pm | editor

Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva, an international community engaged in spreading Srimanta Sankaradeva's humanitarian ideology across the globe has launched its official website in a colourful function on January 1 District Library, Guwahati. The function was attended by the leading people of Assam associated with Sankaradeva movement. Dr Sanjib Kumar Borkakoti, President of Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva launched the website by pressing the mouse and explained the features of the site. He also dwelt on the pan-Indian works of the great saint in medieval era and reiterated the resolve of the society to take the message of the saint all over the globe.

The inaugural function was graced by Sri Rajanikanta Dutta, Padadhikar, Srimanta Sankaradeva Sangha, Sri Dayal Krishna Bora, Acharya, Eka Sharana Bhagavati Samaj and Sri Bhadra Krishna Goswami, former President, Asom Sattra Mahasabha as honourable guests. They highlighted the legacy bequeathed by the saint for the posterity. Hari Prasad Hazarika, General Secretary of Srimanta Sankaradeva Sangha and Jibeswar Goswami, General Secretary of Asom Sattra Mahasabha also were present as special guests. Gili Navon, a researcher from Hibrew University of Jerusalem spoke highly of Sankari culture.

The newly launched site has features of users creating their own documents, photos, videos, audio music and some other facilities. It is planned as an encyclopaedic source for information about Srimanta Sankaradeva. Users can upload materials in the site. It has social networking facility. It also has live webcast facility. The entire website launch event was webcast live all over the world by the site. This unique website has been designed by New Delhi-based Ashim Dutta. However he could not attend the function due to indisposition. Pradip Hazarika explained the purpose of the event at the outset and Dr Mallika Kandali offered vote of thanks.

KCP top leader nabbed in Manipur

21 Apr 2011 - 12:25am | editor

A top leader of the proscribed Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) faction of Lanheiba group has been arrested by a team of Bishnupur district police commandos last evening at around 5 PM, police said on Wednesday. Acting on a tip off, a team of Bishnupur district police commandos conducted a search operation at Thanga Oinam Leikai under Moirang police station in Bishnupur district, Manipur last evening and arrested Oinam Ghana (30) son of Meino of Thanga Oinam Leikai in the same district.

On spot verification, police could identified the arrested person to be the Bishnupur district commander of KCP Lanheiba group. Police recovered one 9 mm pistol and some ammunition from his possession, they said.

Bee keeping training

3 Dec 2017 - 9:14pm | AT News

GUWAHATI: Training on scientific beekeeping is completed in  Lakhimpur and Dhemaji  District on Sunday.

Fifty farmers availed of the training at RARS, Gorumoria, N. Lakhimpur and twenty five nos of farmers attend at Training Hall of DAO, Dhemaji. 

DAO, K. Kr. Lahan inaugurated  the training programme at Dhemaji. During the training programme, the Chief Scientist, Regional Agricultural Research Station (RATS), Lakhimpur Dr Prabal Saikia discussed with Bakul Saikia, Nodal Officer, Bee Keeping , Directorate of Horticulture and Food Processing about establishment of Nucleus Centre of Honey Bee at RARS, N Lakhimpur, so that farmers can take the colonies of Honey Bee  from RARS easily. 

Bakul Saikia, L. Dutta  and Ranjan Dutta conducted the training programme as Resource Person .