Health minister wants more taxes on tobacco products

February 24th, 2008 - 10:46 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Anbumani Ramadoss

New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss Sunday urged Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to increase taxes on tobacco products in the budget to be presented to parliament Feb 29. “We have requested the finance minister to increase the taxes on (tobacco) products so that the alarming figures of its consumption as compared to other countries can come down,” Ramadoss told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on microbicides he inaugurated.

He said that in India more than 300 million people are addicted to tobacco and hinted at curtailing tobacco cultivation in the near future.

The minister took pot shots at cine stars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan for their criticism of his stance against on-screen smoking. “Creativity should be used to save lives and not to take lives,” he said.

He had earlier requested films stars to quit smoking as they influence young minds.

The minister had also written a letter to the information and broadcasting ministry to stop surrogate advertisements for liquor and tobacco products.

“Advertisements play a very vital role in influencing young minds, so stop surrogate advertisements showing liquor and tobacco products is the need of the hour,” the health minister said.

The four-day biannual conference on microbicides will aim at empowering women to fight with the deadly disease HIV and not depending upon the male counterparts to use preventive measures.

“In 2006 nearly 2.5 million women were reported to be fighting the disease and amongst these nearly 90 percent are married, so there is an urgent need to empower women to fight for themselves.” Ramadoss said.

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