Experts have urged the government to increase the prices of tobacco products through effective taxation in a bid to reduce tobacco consumption in the country.
They made the call while speaking at a virtual roundtable, jointly organised by PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) and Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA), titled ‘Tobacco Tax and Price Measures for a Tobacco-Free Bangladesh: Reality and the Way Forward’ on Monday.Lawmakers, economists, journalists and public health experts joined the programme and expressed their opinions in this regard.
To achieve a tobacco-free Bangladesh, the prices of cigarettes and other tobacco products should be increased through specific taxation, bringing these products beyond the purchasing power of the masses, they said.
PROGGA presented its budget proposals for FY 2021-22’ during the event. Its estimate said implementation of such proposal would encourage 1.1 million adult smokers to quit it and prevent premature deaths of 390,000 existing smokers and 400,000 youths.
The proposals regarding supplementary duty, health development surcharge and VAT on cigarettes would also earn the government an additional Tk 3,400 crore in revenues.
Saber Hossain Chowdhury MP, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Forestry and Climate Change, Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, eminent economist and convener of the National Anti-Tobacco Platform, Prof Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique, chairman of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) and former vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, Prof Dr Meerjadey Sebrina Flora, additional director-general of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), and Dr Nasir Uddin Ahmed, former chairman of National Board of Revenue (NBR), among others, spoke at the programme.