Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has written to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asking him to effect a "steep hike" in prices of tobacco products, saying they are a "menace" to society and the costlier they become the better.
"Tobacco products like cigarettes, bidi and gutka are a source of so many diseases. It's a menace," he told reporters today, adding he has written to Jaitley to hike their prices in a big way in the budget so as to reduce their consumption.
Vardhan said he had as a practicing doctor seen for himself the ill-effects of tobacco items and it was necessary to reduce their consumption if India is to grow as a healthy country.
"The more expensive they become, the better it is for all of us. Their price should be hiked. They should become rare," he said.
Vardhan has been championing the cause of preventive health care, arguing that a robust preventive mechanism would result in much fewer people turning up at hospitals. He has also been vigorusly advocating against the use of tobacco products.