Amended tobacco control law will safeguard public health

Implementation of proper policies a must

Published : 01 Feb 2023 08:45 PM

To make a “tobacco-free Bangladesh” by 2040 in the context of the Prime Minister’s pledge for strengthening the “Tobacco Control Act”, relevant ministries have formulated a draft “Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) (Amendment) Act-2013”. Policymakers received positive responses from the people, which motivated them to make the amendment with no further delay.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina earlier announced her government's plans to make the country tobacco-free by 2040. In this regard, strategic steps should be taken to limit tobacco production and consumption. Also, prices of tobacco products should be increased through implementing effective tobacco tax measures.

It is worth mentioning that the incumbent government has taken a number of initiatives to curb tobacco consumption. For the last several years, anti-tobacco organisations across the country have been calling for increased tobacco prices and the NBR has been complying with the demands by imposing incremental taxes on related products on a regular basis.

Tobacco smoking is the 

cause of many avoidable

 diseases and premature

 deaths in Bangladesh

While the economic activities generated from the production and consumption of tobacco produces huge tax revenues as well as employment opportunities in the tobacco industry, tobacco smoking poses enormous health- and non-health-related threats to the affected individuals, employers, and the society at large. Tobacco smoking is the cause of many avoidable diseases and premature deaths in Bangladesh. Reportedly, in Bangladesh, 35.3 per cent of adults use some form of tobacco. One lakh sixty-one thousand people die in the country every year due to tobacco use and hundreds of thousands of people become paralyzed. 

Bangladesh is still one of the top tobacco consuming countries in the world. Reportedly, Bangladesh incurs an economic loss of Taka 30,000 crore per year in addressing tobacco-related diseases, against its revenue collection of Taka 22,000 crore from tobacco companies, according to a 2018 survey of Bangladesh Cancer Society.

Experts have long been crying hoarse to impose more taxes on the tobacco producing companies to save lives as well as collect more revenue. It is apprehended that if the existing taxes are revised and imposed properly, the government could earn an additional Tk 10,000 crore in revenue from the sector It needs no emphasising that increase in tobacco taxes will be the most effective means of reducing the consumption of tobacco. If its price goes out of people’s purchasing capacity, the consumption will gradually reduce. Therefore, necessary steps should be taken to impose more taxes on the tobacco producing companies.