Higher tobacco taxes to cut deaths

About 37.8m adults use tobacco; over 1,610,00 die every year due to tobacco use

Staff Correspondent

29 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh Network for NCD Control and Prevention (BNNCP), an organisation of medical professionals, has demanded that the prices of all types of tobacco products be taken beyond the purchasing power of young people to keep future generations away from tobacco addiction.   

The organisation has written a letter to Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, demanding an increase in prices of all tobacco products, including cigarettes, in the upcoming national budget for fiscal 2021-22.

According to the letter, about 37.8 million adults of the country still use tobacco (smoking and smokeless) while more than 1,610,00 people die every year in Bangladesh due to tobacco use.

 Besides, the economic loss (expenses of treatment and loss of productivity) of tobacco use in the 2017-18 financial year was Tk 30,560 crore, the letter added.

The BNNCP has proposed an increase in tobacco tax, blaming low prices and easy availability of tobacco for the cause of tobacco-related deaths and financial losses.  

The suggestions include introducing a specific tax (supplementary duty) on all brands of cigarettes in the financial year 2021-2022 with uniform specific tax (65 percent of the retail price), fixing the price of lower tier cigarettes at Tk 50 and Tk 70 for medium tier cigarettes with specific tax of Tk 32.50 and Tk 45.50 respectively per 10 sticks of cigarettes.

Besides, the retail price of 10 sticks of higher tier cigarettes needs to be set at Tk 110 and supplementary tax of Tk 71.50 and Tk 140 for premium tier cigarettes while the specific tax should be Tk 91. In the medium term (2021-22 to 2025-26), it is proposed to reduce the price tiers from 4 to 2.

They suggested introducing specific excise (supplementary) duty on filtered and unfiltered bidis with uniform specific tax (45 percent of the retail price) and fixing the price of unfiltered bidis at Tk 25 with specific SD of Tk 11.25 and Tk 20 for filtered bidis with specific supplementary duty of Tk 9.

The organisation also suggested introducing specific excise (supplementary) duty including tax and price increase of jorda and gul. It demanded fixing the retail price of jorda at Tk 45 per 10 grams and a specific supplementary duty of Tk 27 (60 percent) and fixing a retail price of gul at Tk 25 per 10 grams and imposing a specific supplementary duty of Tk15 (60 percent).