Spending on treating such diseases is just a little less than revenue from tobacco products; Union health minister, Harsh Vardhan, says he would press for increase in tax on such products
India spent Rs 16,800 crore in 2011 to treat tobacco-related diseases. Cardiovascular diseases shared the highest burden of such diseases, costing Rs 3,600 crore by way of public health spending, followed closely by respiratory diseases (Rs 2,800 crore), tuberculosis (Rs 2,300 crore), and cancers (Rs 1,400 crore). The proportion of men seeking treatment for such ailments was much higher than women.
Highlighting the huge loss incurred by India on account of consumption of tobacco, a report—Economic Burden of Tobacco Related Diseases in India—says that the overall economic burden due to tobacco was Rs 1,04,500 crore. This was 1.6 per cent of the country's gross domestic product. It was 12 per cent more than the combined states' and Central government's expenditure on health.
Releasing the report, prepared by Public Health Foundation of India, in collaboration with Government of India and World Health Organization, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said he will make efforts to reduce consumption of tobacco in India.
"I will ask the finance minister to raise tax on tobacco products," said Vardhan.
The report analyses data from 13 states. Uttar Pradesh has the highest economic burden of treating tobacco-related diseases; it is 28 per cent of the all-India burden. West Bengal's share is 13 per cent and Andhra Pradesh's share is 12 per cent.
"Andhra Pradesh, now Seemandhra, is the highest producer of tobacco in the country, as well as one of the high consuming areas. We should look at the reasons for such patterns and do something concrete on the ground," said Keshav Desiraju, former health secretary of India, lauded for his work in tobacco control.
Officials from the finance department said that tobacco earns Rs 18,000 crore revenue for the exchequer every year. "This is a huge amount that we cannot let go. We have to frame policies to balance public health and revenue generated," said an official.
Desiraju pointed out that the expenditure on treatment is also equally high—Rs 16,800 crore according to the report.
"We have start an effective dialogue between the earners and those who spend. The ultimate gain to the exchequer is not much," said Desiraju.
|Economic burden on states|
Four states-West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra- together accounted for 60 per cent of the economic burden from tobacco-attributable heart diseases
Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal together accounted for 47 per cent of the burden from respiratory diseases
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