Human rights and research organisation VOICE on behalf of young people have submitted a petition to the National Board of Revenue demanding tax reform for the sake of public health on World No Tobacco Day.
This year "commit to quit" is the slogan for World No Tobacco Day. More than 400 young students and professionals from different institutes have expressed their solidarity with the slogan and signed the petition demanding tax reform in the upcoming budget, reads a press release.
Bangladesh is one of the largest tobacco consuming countries in the world with 35.3 percent of her grown-up population being addicted to tobacco.
According to Global Tobacco Atlas 2020, tobacco took away 1 lakh 61 thousand lives in the previous year. The lucrative advertisement and cheaper rate of bidi, cigarette and other tobacco products attracts the young generation.
A study in 2013 had revealed that 90 percent of the young smokers got addicted to the habit at the age of 13. Young people getting addicted to tobacco has greater implications than just economic loss as it affects the workforce. This is why it becomes extremely challenging to contain the fatality rate.
In a pandemic-stricken world where the World Health Organisation has prescribed to avoid smoking for the sake of health, availability of tobacco can cause a disaster. Young students and professionals concerned about the issue have signed a petition demanding tobacco tax reform in the upcoming budget as controlling the prices of tobacco by imposing tax has proved to be an effective way to reduce tobacco consumption.
They also drew attention to the authority of honourable Prime Ministers declaration of making Bangladesh tobacco free by 2040. They have raised their concern over health and over the fulfillment of the prime minister's declaration.
They have offered a number of suggestions to reform tax structure.
Introducing a tiered specific excise with uniform tax burden where excise share will be 65% of final retail price across all cigarette brands.
In case of non-filter bidi specific tax should be 45 per cent of the retail price
In case of smokeless tobacco (Jarda,Gul) specific tax should be imposed
If this happens it will stop 8 lakh young people from starting smoking and encourage 11 lakh grown-ups to give up the habit. Above all, it would enable us to stop the untimely death of 3 lakh 90 thousand current smokers. It will also save the lives of 4 lakh youngsters. They can be turned into human resources in our country.