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Indian tobacco industry is direct employment in India

India, home to the world’s second-highest number of tobacco users (around 275 million), last year had set a target of reducing tobacco use by 20% by 2020 and 30% by 2025.

tobacco, marijuana, ganja, drugs, cigarette

The Indian tobacco industry is one of the largest commercial sectors and an important source of direct and indirect employment in many regions of the country. With a total production value of US$ 1.6 trillion in 2012, the Tobacco industry’s contribution to the nation’s GDP amounted to 1.1% representing about 7% of the total for the manufacturing sector. Tobacco, being a labor-intensive crop, provides employment to more than 60 lakh people who are engaged in the farming, curing, grading, primary marketing, processing, packaging, manufacturing, distribution, and retailing activities besides exporting.

Tobacco is a dangerous addictive item that can cause mouth cancer and other health issues. But it is still not banned because the eaters are addicted and could not leave it in a day, and therefore the smuggling of tobacco will start on a large scale which would create a messy situation. But still, the government is trying to reduce its consumption by creating awareness and opening Drug de-addiction centers. A government can try to ban anything, but in the case of tobacco, there are various reasons not to. There are people who insist on their right to smoke. They might tolerate state-imposed health-advice, but being entirely prohibited from smoking might cause them to no longer vote for the politicians who supported the ban. There are economic interests. Controlling companies from selling them would mean that those people who work in cigarette production, distribution, and sales would lose their jobs. Many countries impose an additional tax on tobacco products which generates quite a lot of tax income. Banning smoking would cause this income to disappear, which would mandate cuts on government spending or a higher deficit. India, home to the world’s second-highest number of tobacco users (around 275 million), last year had set a target of reducing tobacco use by 20% by 2020 and 30% by 2025. Going by the decline in tobacco product output, the target under an action plan drawn up by the ministry of health and family welfare may not be out of reach. Stiff increases in tobacco and cigarette taxes and stringent packaging norms have contributed to the decline. According to the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) data, the output of tobacco, which includes cigarettes, bidis, and chewable tobacco products, declined by 12.1% in March 2015. The NDA’s anti-tobacco campaigns, its efforts to stop the sale of loose cigarettes (that accounts for about 70% of total sales), and hike in penalties for smoking at public places has also worked in its favour. But industry body the Tobacco Institute of India (TII) does not subscribe to the view that consumption of tobacco products may have actually declined.

Punjab has banned them, but the reason behind the huge sale of gutkha in India is that the people who are addicted to it want to have it at any price. So, obviously, Indians shop works on what most of their customers’ demands. Banning Tobacco in India would be one of the worst things the government can do because India is the second-largest Tobacco producer in the world. Around 10% of total excise revenue comes from tobacco out of which around 80% is contributed by cigarettes. Tobacco is a cash crop and thus provides high returns to farmers. The tobacco industry provides livelihood to around 45 million people in the country. But still, if the government bans tobacco in India. They might have to face a lot of consequences, tobacco may start trading in the black market same as Marijuana or cannabis, or weed. Tobacco is a highly taxable commodity through which the government earns a lot of revenue, if tobacco starts trading in the black market people will be still consuming tobacco but the government would not be getting any tax revenue. 45 million is a very high number of people that are employed in the industry. In a country like India ripping these numbers of people will only increase the poverty level. Thus banning tobacco will not help people in getting over their addiction but would rip off the government from getting any revenues. Instead of banning, the government can issue a regulatory, warning label area on the cigarette packet that must be increased (various studies have shown it has a positive effect on people). Taxes on Tobacco should be increased further; E-cigarettes should be promoted. Farmers should be promoted to shift their cropping pattern and shift to other crops. Awareness programs should be promoted in schools and colleges. Smoking in public places should be STRICTLY BANNED. In short, the problem Tobacco causes or the number of families it rips apart can only be answered by people themselves by understanding that it is injurious to their health whether in chewing or smoking form.

Banning something is not a solution to eradicate the addiction people have to it. First of all, let’s understand that people don’t consume or get addicted to these things based on whether it’s legal or not. If you want to consume it, you’ll always find someone happy to sell it. There is a case relating to the scenario, it happened in the United States, in 1880 an act was passed known as Anti-abortion and legalization act this act prevents the doctors and nurses from doing the abortion. Doctors and nurses were put behind bars if they were caught doing an abortion. In the early 1900s, the crime rate increased badly and the reason was unknown. In 1970 a Rockwell commission was set up and they found out the reason. The reason is the women who were not able to abort or raise the children, gave birth to the child, and threw their children off the streets. This made the children grow without proper guidance; thereby those children were involved in the robbery, rape, crime, etc. You can ask how it is related to tobacco. If you stop a sudden activity which many people are doing, it is difficult to face the aftermath. India has 11.2 per cent of the world’s total smokers. If you ban Tobacco it will affect us for many reasons. Banning gutka/pan masala leads to higher addiction to the same and this may sound counterintuitive, but it’s true. Banning Gutka/pan masala would mean that illegal sellers can sell these at a higher margin of profits, further increasing the supply of the same. Let’s take the example of Marijuana criminalization in the USA. In the 1950s, the usage of Marijuana became illegal and we can see a clear spike in consumption. It was made legal back in the 1970s and the growth rate of consumption became zero. It is not practically possible to ban tobacco in India; figuratively there are approximately 200 million smokers in India which sum up to almost 12% of the world’s smoking population. Just think about what will happen to 200 million tobacco addicts if tobacco is banned all of a sudden.

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 14 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazine Beyond The News (international). She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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