WITH nearly 35 per cent of India's adult population (age 15+) consuming some form of tobacco, there are around 275 million people in the country smoking and/or chewing this poison, and an estimated 1 million dying every year from tobacco-related diseases. Moreover, 27 per cent of the youth (age group 13-15 years) are exposed to second-hand smoke at home and 40 per cent are exposed to second hand smoke in public places. Bidis or cheap hand-rolled cigarettes -- which outsell cigarettes by a ratio of 8:1-- are the most popular tobacco product used in India comprising 48 per cent of the tobacco market. Chewing tobacco comes next at 38 per cent followed by cigarettes at 14 per cent.
For World No Tobacco Day 2014, World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners called on countries to raise taxes on tobacco. Increasing taxes on tobacco is considered to be the most cost-effective tobacco control measure. An increase of 10 per cent in tobacco prices is said to decrease tobacco consumption by about 4 per cent in high-income countries and by up to 8 per cent in most low- and middle-income countries. The World Health Report 2010 indicated that a 50 per cent increase in tobacco excise taxes would generate a little more than US$1.4 billion in additional funds in 22 low-income countries.
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