Bring tobacco products under 28% tax slab, urges public health groups
GUWAHATI: Public health groups along with doctors and economists have called upon the members of the GST Council to retain tobacco products as demerit goods and bring them under the highest tax slab 28% plus cess.
Tobacco products include cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, which impact the lives of India’s 268 million tobacco users.
The call to include tobacco products in the highest tax slab has been made to discourage the use of tobacco products. It will also help the government to increase the volume of revenue.
It should be noted that ‘bidis’ are not classified as a ‘sin’ product under GST even though it is as harmful as cigarettes and contributes to the majority of the 10 lakh deaths in the country every year.
“By categorizing cigarettes and smokeless tobacco as demerit goods under GST and levying the highest GST rate of 28% plus cess on these, the Government of India has prevented millions of youth from tobacco initiation and lifelong addiction. It is critical that these tobacco products are retained in the 28% plus cess rate category of GST to discourage consumption and encourage millions of tobacco users to quit. Increase in tobacco taxation will be beneficial for our country’s economy as well as to address public health concerns related to tobacco thus making it a win-win situation,” said Advocate Ajoy Hazarika, Secretary, Consumer Legal Protection Forum.