India spends over ₹800 billion every year on health effects of ‘bidi’ smoking, says study

(Photo Source: npr.org)

  • A research published in a journal ‘tobacco control’ has shown worrying numbers on India’s total expenditure on health treatment and premature deaths due to ‘bidi’ smoking. The smoking of bidi, a local tobacco-leaf product, has cost nearly ₹800 billion in India (over US$12 billion), for the year 2017.
  • One in every four men in India smokes bidis, revealed the study. The country has over 75 million regular users that are above the age of 15.
  • The total amount covers 0.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is also over 2% of the cost that country sheds on health.
  • While the current tax slab for tobacco smoking is 22%, it should be revised according to World Health Organisation (WHO), which recommends it to be 75%, said the report. The tax on bidi is just a fraction of that on cigarettes.
Despite the fact that cigarettes are replacing the local ‘bidi’ in India, a research published in a journal ‘ Tobacco control’ has shown worrying numbers on India’s total expenditure on ill health and premature deaths due to the latter.

According to the study, ‘bidi’ smoking, which is more common in India as compared to traditional cigarettes, has cost the country nearly ₹800 billion in India (over US$ 12 billion), for the year 2017. Of this, around one-fifth accounted for medicines, doctors' fees, hospital stays and transport.

‘Bidi’ smoking, which has been linked to cancer, tuberculosis and lung disease among others, has over 75 million regular users who are above the age of 15. That accounts for 81% of tobacco smoking in India.

In fact, according to another study that analysed overall tobacco smoking patterns in India from 1998 to 2015, the country has over 100 million adult smokers, which is the second largest in the world behind China. India saw over a million adult deaths due to tobacco smoking in last few years, including the ones due to bidi-smoking.

One in every four men In India smokes bidis, revealed the study.

The amount spent on health-care covers 0.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is also over the 2% of the cost that country sheds on health.

The study highlights that smoking has thrust about 15 million people into the vicious web of poverty because of the consequences it brings including health costs and the spendings on tobacco in the first place.

Looking into the stats the study has revealed, the researchers have asked for increase in taxation concerned with smoking. While the current tax slab for tobacco smoking is 22%, it should be revised according to World Health Organisation (WHO), which recommends it to be 75%, it said. The tax on bidi is just a fraction of that on cigarettes.
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