Additional cess can be levied on tobacco products by governments in order to raise revenue to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication said on Monday on the occasion of ‘World No Tobacco Day’.

In a statement issued on Monday, the secretary of the Organisation, Goa-based oncologist Dr. Shekhar Salkar also said that there is growing evidence that tobacco use increases the risk of a severe Covid-19 infection.

“Public health groups along with doctors are urging the GST Council to increase compensation cess on all tobacco products to generate additional revenue for the government. In their appeals to the GST council they are urging it to consider an extra-ordinary measure of levying compensation cess on all tobacco products to get additional revenues,” Salkar said.

“This tax revenue from tobacco could significantly contribute to the increased need for resources during the pandemic including vaccinations and augmenting the health infrastructure to prepare for a possible third wave,” he also said, calling it a “win-win” policy, which will address the economic shock from Covid-19 pandemic and directly reduce Covid-19 related co-morbidities.

“There is growing evidence that smoking and smokeless tobacco increases risk for severe Covid 19 infection. Smoking worsens lung function and reduces immunity. Tobacco users who develop Covid infection have more complications and greater risk of fatality,” he also said.

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