Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) has put forward a set of recommendations to the government with a view to preventing around six lakh untimely deaths in the long run and making Bangladesh tobacco-free by 2040.
In its budget proposal for the fiscal year 2020-2021, ATMA called for introducing a well-defined taxation procedure for the tobacco industry, increasing the prices and tax on tobacco products, and simplifying the 4-tier pricing system in cigarettes to a two-tier one to increase revenue from the sector to mend the financial losses caused by the coronavirus.
The anti-tobacco platform submitted its budget recommendations to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) on Sunday, according to a press release.
The proposals also include elimination of price distinction between filter and non-filter bidis. In bidi, the price for 25 filtered sticks should be Tk40, which will be followed by a supplementary tax of 45 percent and a 6.85-taka specific tax; and increasing the price of smokeless tobacco.
A 15 percent value-added tax needs to be applied for all tobacco products, according to the statement.
The statement also said if the aforementioned proposals are implemented it will encourage nearly 2 million current adult smokers to quit the injurious habit.
Such move will prevent 6 lakh premature deaths in the long run and raise additional revenues up to Tk10,000 crore for the government.
The additional revenue may help the government recover losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. To curb the prevalence of tobacco at a much faster rate and to realise the vision for a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040 as declared by the prime minister, mentioned TMA in its press statement.
The organisation urged the revenue board to incorporate such proposals into the national budget for the 2020-21 fiscal.
Citing that the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently informed that lungs hooked on tobacco are at greater risk of Covid - 19, the press statement said the widespread availability of tobacco products has pushed this group to such a tragic level of vulnerability.
For years, a flawed taxation structure, particularly the 4-tier pricing system in cigarettes and the scope for purchasing tobacco products at very cheap prices have barred all the tobacco tax and price measures taken by the government from having desired effect, rendering them virtually ineffective, said the statement.