Bidi in demerit category (28%) in Goods Service Tax (GST) was a big win in India
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Sambandh Health Foundation, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A612
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Background and challenges to implementation:
Bidi is consumed on a large scale in India, especially in rural and low income regions One of the major reasons behind this is the price of bidi. Out of the 29 states in India only 6 have negligible taxes on Bidi with no other taxes being imposed on it. To equalize the price of products throughout the country the of India abolished more than 500 different types of taxes and planned implementation of one nation one tax system. This has been labelled as GST.
As the tax on Bidi was low, it was being expected that it will be kept in the lower tax bracket of GST.Bidi sale in India is 8 times more than cigarettes. More than 9.2% of smokers in the age group of more than 15 years smoke .The Indian formed a council to pass the GST bill.

Intervention or response:
Various organisations conducted campaigns on a national scale to include Bidi in a higher tax bracket under the GST. Campaigns pertaining to the above were initiated in various parts of the country via print, news agencies, electronic media and social media.
The campaign received 87164 likes with the news of the campaign reaching more than 1.3 million people. 1474 people tweeted on this issue to Prime Minister with the tweets being viewed more than 283757 times.hastag(#bidi# onetobaccotax, #GST, #PMMODI, #Onetobaccotax, #Tobaccokills, #बीड़ी)
created for one tobacco tax under GST which was seen by and agreed upon by 712239 people. The print media published more than a 1000 articles on this issue. the campaign.

Results and lessons learnt:
The campaign to include Bidi in a higher tax slab(28%) caused the govt & council to include it in the higher tax category.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
This shows the key role played by campaigns in various aspects in raising an issue if public interest to put pressure on the government.

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