Cigarette prices up, smokers shift to bidis | business | Hindustan Times
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Cigarette prices up, smokers shift to bidis

business Updated: Jun 24, 2008 15:34 IST

While the government is trying out various methods, including a hefty tax levy to make smokers give up smoking or cough up more, tobacco lovers are turning to cheaper options to 'puff away their blues'.

Trends indicate that smokers hit by the rising prices have shifted to so called down market options like bidis and Gutkas, as heavy tax slabs have failed to kill their urge to smoke resulting in an increase in total tobacco consumption.

"High rates of taxation on cigarettes are forcing consumers to shift to cheaper and alternate forms of tobacco consumption. As a result, overall tobacco consumption is increasing, as the price of other tobacco products is very low," says Udayan Lal, Director, Tobacco Institute of India (TII).

According to a report by the health ministry, India is home to 100 million bidi smokers and around 8 lakh people in the country die due to tobacco consumption annually with 6 lakh deaths caused by bidis alone.

"It's not that the government is unaware of the facts about the growing bidi industry. The highly labour intensive nature of the industry, which provides large-scale employment, gives it a powerful voice and that could be one of the reasons why tax rates are so low," says Lal.