Bangladesh has improved its score on cigarette taxation policy, from 2.38 in 2018 to 2.63 in 2020, according to a new global report.
However, the country is still lagging far behind the top-performing countries in the Cigarette Tax Scorecard.
Bangladesh got an overall score of 2.63 out of 5 possible points, which is higher than the global average (2.28), says the 2nd edition of the cigarette tax index, released by Tobacconomics, a research initiative by the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC).
New Zealand and Ecuador scored the highest with scores of 4.63, followed by the United Kingdom and Canada, with scores of 4.38 and 4.25, respectively.
The latest report shows ample opportunities for Bangladesh to improve its performance by increasing the price of cigarettes, increasing the tax share of the price, and improving the existing tobacco tax structure, said a press release of Progga (Knowledge for Progress).
The findings of the Bangladesh part of this year's report were unveiled on Wednesday in a virtual event, organised by research and anti-tobacco advocacy organisation Progga with support from Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids (CTFK).
The latest edition of the Tobacconomics Cigarette Tax Scorecard presents an actionable assessment of the cigarette tax policies of 160 countries, using data for the year 2020 from the World Health Organization's biennial report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic.
As the chief guest, eminent economist and convener of the National Anti-Tobacco Platform, Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said, "The study findings can help our policymakers to adopt effective tobacco tax policies. The prices of cigarettes and other tobacco products should be hiked to bring these products beyond the purchasing power of the people. Without such measures, the realisation of the Prime Minister's vision to build a tobacco-free country would be impossible."
Dr Nigar Nargis, senior scientific director, of Tobacco Control Research of the American Cancer Society and a member of the Tobacconomics team, presented the findings.
Vandana Shah, regional director, South Asia programs CTFK, Mostafizur Rahman, lead policy advisor, CTFK-Bangladesh, Md Shafiqul Islam, Head of Programs, Bangladesh, Policy Advocacy and Communication, Vital Strategies; Syed Mahbubul Alam, technical advisor, The Union; and ABM Zubair, executive director, Progga also spoke.