Government today said that ‘Bidi’ smoking is equally hazardous as cigarette smoking even as it contains one-fourth of the tobacco found in cigarette.
Quoting a report titled ‘Bidi Smoking and Public Health’ (2008) published by Health Ministry in its written reply in Lok Sabha, Union Health Minister JP Nadda said, “Bedi smoking is no less hazardous than cigarette smoking. A bedi contains about one-fourth the quantity of tobacco as a cigarette, yet it delivers a higher amount of tar and nicotine.”
He said that just like cigarette smoking, bidi smoking has been shown to increase the risk of chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis and respiratory diseases.
On levy of taxes on bedi, the minister said that there is no proposal under consideration to impose equal taxes on cigarette and bidis.
“Cigarettes are chargeable to specific excise duty rates based on its length whereas bidis are chargeable to specific excise duty rate irrespective of their length,” he said.
On illegal sale of smuggled cigarette, Nadda said that the Anti-Smuggling Unit of Department of Revenue has detected several cases of smuggling of foreign cigarettes in the country.
It has seized 24.84 crore cigarettes of foreign brands in past three years and current year.
“The field formation including Directorate of Revenue Intelligence have been sentisized and alerted to keep a strict vigil in this regards so as to prevent/check smuggling of foreign brand of cigarettes in the country,” the minister said.