Several Members of Parliament (MP) have supported a proposal that calls for an increased tax on tobacco products in the upcoming national budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
The tax proposal calls for a specific duty of 65% on the retail price of cigarettes, 45% on bidis, and 60% on the retail price of smokeless tobacco products.
Professor Sohel Reza Choudhury, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Research, National Heart Foundation Hospital, presented the proposal on a webinar this Monday.
The webinar, 'Upcoming Budget: Increasing Tobacco Tax to Protect Public Health, Additional Revenue Earning and Our Expectations' was organised by the Tobacco Free Bangladesh Platform, reads a press release.
MPs attending the programme, including Rashed Khan Menon, Begum Wasika Ayesha Khan, and Khadijatul Anwar supported the proposal to increase the price of tobacco products with specific taxes.
They agreed to send a proposal to the finance minister and the National Board of Revenue to reduce tobacco use with an emphasis on public health.
Saber Hossain Chowdhury, MP, president of the Tobacco Free Bangladesh Platform, coordinated the webinar.
He said, "The prime minister has given instructions to implement a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040. This goal can be achieved by amending the law by imposing specific taxes on tobacco products."
According to the proposal presented by Prof Choudhury, if the proposed taxes are imposed, the supplementary duty and VAT will be an additional revenue of Tk30,000 crore.
Also, raising tobacco prices and reducing its availability would encourage about 1.1 million adult smokers to quit smoking and discourage more than 800,000 young people from starting smoking.
This will make it will be possible to prevent the untimely death of 3 lakh 90 thousand current smokers and 4 lakh young people.
Among others, National Prof, Brigadier (Retd) Abdul Malik, president of the National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh, Prof Mostafizur Rahman, former director of the National Institute of Disease of Chest & Hospital (NIDCH), Dr Syed Mahfuzul Haque, the national professional officer of the Bangladesh Country Office of the World Health Organization, Kazi Jebunnesa Begum, additional secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Zillur Rahman Chowdhury, coordinator of the National Tobacco Control Cell, and Mostafizur Rahman, lead policy advisor of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, also participated in the webinar.