Eighteen tobacco control organisations in the country have demanded a specific tax on all tobacco products and a reduction in the price category of cigarettes from four to two. Besides, they made various recommendations including the formulation of a timely and effective National Tobacco Tax Policy for the next fiscal year.
The demands were raised at a press conference held on June 9 jointly organised by Aid Foundation, Arch Foundation, Bangladesh Cancer Society, Bangladesh Anti-Tobacco Alliance, BCCP, Bangladesh Network for Tobacco Tax Policy, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Dhaka International University, Grambangla Development Committee, Natab, National Heart Foundation, Pragya, Campaign for Good Governance, Anti-Tobacco Women's Coalition, Tobacco Control and Research Cell, DBUBB Trust and Ypsa.
Dhaka University Professor of Economics and Focal Person of the Bureau of Economic Research Dr Rumana Haque proposed an increase in the price of tobacco products and taxes.
With the implementation of the proposed tax structure, the rate of cigarette addiction will come down from around 13.7 percent to about 11.9 percent and the rate of bidi addiction will come down from 5.0 percent to 3.3 percent, which will help Bangladesh be tobacco-free by 2040, she said.
At the same time, it will be possible to generate additional revenue of around Tk10,000 crore by imposing a specific supplementary duty on tobacco products, which will play a helpful role in overcoming economic losses caused by Coivd-19, she added.
She further said 126,000 people died of tobacco-related diseases in Bangladesh in 2018. If this proposal is implemented, 20 lakhs of smokers will quit smoking and the number of smokeless tobacco users will also come down significantly. This will save the lives of six lakhs smokers and increase the revenue of the government. The way the current tax system is benefiting the tobacco company will also stop.