Friday, 10 October 2008

Ban On Smoking In Public Places: People To Save Rs 10,000 Crore On Health Bills A Year

October 10, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Oct 10: It's going to be a windfall for the Union government with health planners expecting about Rs 10,000 crore a year even if one per cent of India's estimated 120 million smokers are fined under the new Act banning smoking in public places. This is 60 per cent of India's total annual health budget of Rs
16,534 crore.
According to a study conducted by the World Health Organisation, the total turnover of the tobacco industry in India is Rs 35,000 crore and Indians spend at least Rs 36,000 crore on medicare to fight diseases directly connected to tobacco, particularly cigarette smoking.
"The economics of ban of public smoking is quite high. In the USA and European countries where public smoking is banned, the incidence of diseases like cancer linked to tobacco has come down by 30 per cent. If the ban is implemented effectively in India, the economic burden on people due to tobacco-related ailments
will come down by at least Rs 10,000 crore a year, given the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and WHO statistics," said Dr P Vijay Anand Reddy, chief of cancer wing of Apollo Hospitals.
The total revenue generation to the national exchequer and the savings on medical bills of Indians could well be over Rs 20,000 crore since Union Minister of Health Anbumani Ramadoss went on record saying that 40 per cent of the country's health problems are linked to smoking. One in five people the world over who have health problems because of tobacco use is an Indian.
Since the revenue generated from the ban is unexpectedly high, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has laid out "step by step" guidelines to all the State governments to ensure that the Act is implemented in toto. Individuals violating the Act will be penalised Rs 200 and the fine thus collected will be deposited in a special fund to be created by individual State governments.
"The money thus generated will be utilised solely for creating awareness on tobacco-related diseases and other health activities. We are also taking enough steps to ensure that the money collected as fine is deposited with the government. To prevent misuse of the money, the district medical and health office has taken the responsibility to publish the challan books with serial numbers. We are distributing them to all departments and establishments for accountability. Moreover, monthly reports have to be sent to DHMO and district collectors concerned for transparency of accounts," Hyderabad DHMO Dr Ch Jayakumari told this correspondent.
The MoHFW has come out with different models of channelising the funds collected through fine. The State governments will have to create a separate head of account one the lines of the one already in existence in Gujarat. This will enable Department of Health to use the fund for tobacco control activities. In
case the States have a separate account for National Tobacco Control Programme in the Health Society, the funds may be deposited in this account.
"It is necessary for the State government to lay down detailed guidelines for ensuring accountability for the amount collected as fine," the MoHFW said in its circular to States.

1 comment:

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