|PHFI’s work on Tobacco|
The Public Health Foundation of India and the Institute for Studies in Industrial Development with support from the World Health Organization Country Office for India hosted an Expert Group Consultation on Tobacco Taxation in India on February 17, 2016 in New Delhi. A distinguished panel including Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India, Dr K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, Prof M. H. Suryanarayana, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Dr B.B. Bhattacharya, Former Vice Chancellor JNU and former Director Institute of Economic Growth and Dr Rijo John, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Jodhpur discussed the current status of tobacco taxes in India as well as landmark findings of a new study titled Tobacco Taxes in India:An Empirical Analysis.
The study commissioned by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India and World Health Organization Country Office for India and conducted by the Public Health Foundation of India and the Institute for Studies in Industrial Development (covering a period from 2006-2013) has found that the current excise and Value Added Tax (VAT) rates are insufficient to increase the prices of tobacco products, therefore making these products easily affordable. In fact, prices of tobacco products in India have not increased substantially over time making these products even cheaper than essential food items.
The consultation was widely attended by key stakeholders and the study has received extensive media coverage. The study findings have come at an opportune time, ahead of the Union Budget for 2016-17 and amidst growing support for the Good and Services tax regime, to push for a comprehensive, evidence-driven strategy for tobacco tax policy in India.