In a situation where the number of cancer patients increases day by day in the country, Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi announced a ban on the sale of select tobacco products in the state to battle cancer, on Friday.
Though the ban is on tobacco, it will not affect the use and sale of cigarettes, bidis and khaini but will affect tobacco products such as pan masala, zarda and sugandhit supari in the state.
Manjhi said, "Tobacco products are not only harmful and dangerous for health, they are the main cause of increasing number of cancer cases in Bihar," at a function.
"In view of this, the government is taking a decision to ban the sale of tobacco products," Manjhi said.
The Bihar government had banned gutka some two years ago.
Earlier, Manjhi said the tax on tobacco products would be doubled from 30 percent to 60 percent to decrease their consumption.
At present there is a 30 percent tax on tobacco products, barring khaini and bidis, in the state.
Raw tobacco was last year exempt from taxes to help thousands of farmers who grow tobacco. According to reports, one of the major factors of cancer in the state is reportedly the consumption of tobacco, especially in the form of raw tobacco called ‘Khaini’. According to one survey, every second adult in Bihar is addicted to khaini.
About 63 percent of men and 35 percent of women in Bihar reportedly consume khaini. As per reports, Bihar accounts for more than 50, 000 deaths due to cancer each year, while more than 80,000 new cancer cases are detected annually owing to huge tobacco consumption.
According to experts, an increase of 10 percent in taxes would decreases consumption by five percent.
Bihar has become the ninth state in India to impose the ban on sale of tobacco.
(With inputs from IANS)