Speakers at a webinar put emphasis on encouraging tobacco growers to cultivate alternative crops after bringing them under registration to build a tobacco-free country.
If this is done, entrepreneurs in this sector will face a crisis of raw materials and be discouraged from making tobacco products.
At the same time, the experts proposed higher taxes on tobacco products to lessen its availability in the country.
Unnayan Samunnay, a local development think-tank on Tuesday organised the discussion on "Tax on tobacco products in budget 2021-22: Thoughts of members of parliament" with the participation of 11 MPs.
Lawmakers emphasised providing alternative sources of income to farmers involved in tobacco cultivation and small entrepreneurs and workers involved in the tobacco industry.
They also suggested investing a portion of the money raised through the tobacco surcharge in these activities.
Former governor of Bangladesh Bank and president of Unnayan Samunnay Dr Atiur Rahman presented the keynote paper.
In the keynote paper, he said the most effective way to reduce tobacco use is to levy appropriate taxes on tobacco products. In this way, The Philippines, Gambia, Sri Lanka, Colombia and Oman have reduced tobacco use to the desired level.
Atiur also suggested investment of a significant portion of the tax collected from the sales of tobacco products in the health sector and another portion in creating alternative employment for those involved in tobacco cultivation. The Philippines has benefited from doing so.
At the same time, he proposed forming a caucus of MPs to be vocal about increasing the tax on tobacco and create awareness among the people, where the MPs would meet on a certain day to discuss the issue.
Mohammad Saifuzzaman, MP from Magura-1 constituency, said tobacco growers should not be allowed for assistance from government initiatives taken to help agriculture and farmers. Farmers who have given up tobacco cultivation and started cultivating other crops should get the assistance.
Shirin Akhter, MP from Feni-1 constituency, said tobacco should be removed from agricultural products.
Reserved women's seat MP advocate Gloria Jharna Sarkar said "Tobacco cultivation destroys the fertility of agricultural land and harms the health of farmers as well as the surrounding environment. We have to make a list of tobacco growers to explain to them about this harmful aspect."
Bogura-3 MP Mohammad Nurul Islam Talukder said tobacco is being cultivated in Bangladesh with Japanese funding although Japan is a tobacco-free country. They are doing tobacco business in the country, spoiling its environment.
Rajshahi-2 MP Fazle Hossain Badsha, Meherpur-2 MP Mohammad Shahiduzzaman, Kurigram-3 MP MA Matin, Lakshmipur-4 MP Abdul Mannan, MPs from reserved women's constituencies Nazma Akhter, Shamsun Nahar, Aparajita Haque also spoke on the occasion.