Higher tobacco taxes to cut 800,000 premature deaths

Says ATMA at a pre-budget meeting

Staff Correspondent

10 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Anti Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) has urged the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to put up taxes on tobacco in a bid to earn more revenues, which it believes will save lives from the harmful effect of tobacco products.

Delegates of the ATMA made the request at a pre-budget meeting at the conference room of NBR headquarters in the capital on Tuesday, said a press release.

The delegates said implementation of the proposal for increasing tobacco price and tax would prevent around 800,000 premature deaths, encourage 1.1 million people to quit smoking and help earn around Tk 3,400 crore in revenues.

They said the existing tobacco taxation structure is highly complex and incapable of doing enough to discourage the use of tobacco products. As a result, the current tobacco taxation structure fails to contribute, as it is supposed to, to the achievement of a tobacco-free Bangladesh.

The recent years have barely seen any decline in the prevalence of cigarette use. Owing to the extremely low tax base and tax rates, tobacco products of all types i.e. cigarettes, bidis and smokeless tobacco items (Jarda and Gul) have remained highly affordable.

The ATMA delegates further said in 2017-18 fiscal year alone, tobacco incurred a financial loss (from medical expenses and loss of productivity) of more than Tk 30,560 crore.

At the pre-budget meeting, NBR officials including its member (VAT policy) Md. Masud Sadiq said the proposals put forward by ATMA will be sincerely considered.

Syed Golam Kibria, member (Customs: Policy and ICT) and Md Alamgir Hossain, member (tax policy) of the NBR were also present at the meeting.

On the other hand, the ATMA delegation includes Monir Hossain Liton, Mortuza Haider Liton, Nadira Kiron, Doulot Akter Mala and Mizan Chowdhury.

During the meeting, the ATMA leaders also presented its budget proposals for 2021-22 fiscal year and handed over a copy to the NBR representatives.

In its proposal, the ATMA proposed imposing uniform tax rates in all cigarette tiers (65 percent supplementary duty on final retail price) and introduce specific excise tax.

It said in the low-tier, the retail price should be set at Tk 50 for 10 sticks, followed by Tk 32.50 as specific supplementary duty (SD), in the medium-tier, the retail price should be fixed at taka 70 for 10 sticks and Tk 45.50 should be imposed as specific SD, in the high-tier, the retail price should be set at Tk 110 for 10 sticks followed by Tk 71.50 as specific SD and in the premium-tier the retail price should be Tk 140 for 10 sticks and Tk 91 should be imposed as specific SD.

The ATMA also proposed imposing uniform tax rates in filtered and non-filtered bidis (45 percent SD on final retail price) and introducing specific excise tax.

In non-filtered bidis, set the retail price at Tk 25 for 25 sticks and add Tk 11.25 as specific SD while in filtered bidis, set the retail price at Tk 20 for 20 sticks and add Tk 9.00 as specific SD, they said.