Experts on Saturday called for imposing high taxes on tobacco products to bring down deaths from tobacco related diseases.
In 2018, a total of 1.26 lakh people died of tobacco related illnesses in Bangladesh, which may reach 1.60 lakh this year.
Speakers said this at a workshop titled "Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Taxation: Public Health Perspective," at the conference hall of the Economic Research Bureau in the Faculty of Arts, Dhaka University.
Dr Rumana Haque, a professor at economics department at the university, said, "We have to be prepared from now to make the country tobacco free by 2040. Besides, the government has to impose tax on tobacco products including jorda, gul, etc. Otherwise, we will not be able to reach our goal."
Only Tk20,000 crore comes as revenue from the sector, although every year Tk30,000 crore is spent on treating tobacco related diseases, causing monetary loss to the economy as well reducing our manpower.
Around 67 percent of deaths in Bangladesh is caused by non-communicable diseases.
"The main reason of the deaths is the use of tobacco. There is no drug addict in Bangladesh who does not smoke. So, we have to reduce the rate of deaths caused by tobacco," said Advocate Syed Mahbubul Alam, the technical advisor at The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, an organisation headquartered in Paris.
He further said, amid the concern regarding tobacco, e-cigarettes have also become a major concern in the country.
"In the next three to four years, it can be a threat to our people. The absence of specific laws regulating e-cigarettes has made the situation worse," he added.