July 14, 2024, 7:56 pm

‘Tobacco tax, prices play vital role achieving tobacco-free BD’

  • Update Time : Thursday, May 23, 2024
  • 31 Time View

Swarnomoyee Mostafa Oishy:

Anti-tobacco activists have called for effective tax and price measures in the upcoming national budget for a Bangladesh free from the health menace.

They said that the existing tobacco tax structure is hardly playing role towards achieving a tobacco-free Bangladesh.

Economists, journalists, and public health experts discussed the issues during a virtual roundtable titled “Tobacco-Free Bangladesh: The Need for Strong Tobacco Tax and Price Measures”, organised by PROGGA, or Knowledge for Progress, and Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance or ATMA.

The speakers said in the event on Wednesday that between 2021 and 2023, the prices of essential commodities, such as sugar, potatoes, and flour have seen a hike extending from 40 to 90 percent.

However, at the same time, the prices of tobacco products increased by only 6 to 15 percent.

This is because of the “faulty” tobacco tax structure.

Economist Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, convenor of the National Anti-Tobacco Platform, said: “There is no alternative to strong tobacco tax and price measures to achieve a tobacco-free Bangladesh. We hope the government will take into account the budget proposals raised in this event.”

Mahfuz Kabir, research director of Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies, said raising the retail price of every 10 sticks low-tier cigarettes to Tk 60 from Tk 45 and supplementary duty to 63 percent from the existing 58 percent would “certainly” discourage cigarette use among the youth and also raise revenue inflow for the government.

The speakers also said that the implementation of the budget proposals would generate Tk 100 billion as additional revenue.

Additionally, the proposals, in the long run, will also help prevent the premature deaths of 1.1 million Bangladeshis, including nearly half a million youths, the speakers claimed.

Among the discussants were Md Mostafizur Rahman, Bangladesh lead policy advisor for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Syed Mahfuzul Huq, national professional officer for WHO, Professor Sohel Reza Choudhury, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Research, National Heart Foundation, and Md Monir Hossain Liton, head of National, Ekattor Television.

Nadira Kiron, co-convener of ATMA, hosted the event which was also attended by Mortuza Haider Liton, convener, ATMA, ABM Zubair, executive director, PROGGA, ATMA journalists and representatives from other anti-tobacco organisations.

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