Bangladesh has improved its performance over cigarette taxation policy, as its score slightly rose to 2.63 from 2.38 in 2018, according to a global tobacco tax index.
Despite some creditable measures to cut tobacco use, Bangladesh still falls behind many other countries in terms of price control and imposing higher taxes.
Such lack of aggressive action against the manufacturers of tobacco products was recently revealed in the US-based index called - Tobacconomics Cigarette Tax Scorecard.
In 2021, Bangladesh has bagged a score of 2.63 on a scale of 5, according to the latest report which shows ample opportunity for Bangladesh to improve its performance by increasing the prices of cigarettes, increasing the tax share of the price, and improving the existing tobacco tax structure.
The findings of this year's global report were highlighted and discussed on Wednesday in a virtual event, organized by research and anti-tobacco advocacy organization PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) with support from Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids (CTFK).
Speakers at the event recommended an increase in price and tax share and structural reform.
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The Cigarette Tax Scorecard, an initiative of the Tobacconomics programme of the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), assesses the performance of cigarette tax policies in 160 countries.
The latest edition of the Tobacconomics Cigarette Tax Scorecard presents an actionable assessment of the cigarette tax policies of 160 countries, using data for the year 2020 from the World Health Organization’s biennial Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic.
Although the latest scorecard shows Bangladesh performing better in 2020 (score 2.63) than it did in 2018 (score 2.38), the country has seen virtually no progress in cigarette prices and tax structure reform.
New Zealand and Ecuador scored the highest with scores of 4.63, followed by the United Kingdom and Canada, with scores of 4.38 and 4.25, respectively.
As the chief guest of the event, eminent economist and convener of the National Anti-Tobacco Platform, Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said, “The study findings can help our policymakers to adopt effective tobacco tax policies. The prices of cigarettes and other tobacco products should be hiked to bring these products beyond the purchasing power of the people.”
Dr Nigar Nargis, Senior Scientific Director, Tobacco Control Research of the American Cancer Society and a member of the Tobacconomics team, presented the findings.
“When it comes to cigarette tax structure, Bangladesh should introduce uniform specific excise taxes instead of multi-tiered ad valorem taxes and annually adjust tax rates with inflation and economic growth. At the same time, taxes on cigarettes should be increased considerably,” she said.
Md Shafiqul Islam, Head of Programs, Bangladesh, Policy Advocacy and Communication, Vital Strategies; Syed Mahbubul Alam, Technical Advisor, The Union; and ABM Zubair, Executive Director, PROGGA attended the virtual programme as panel discussants.
Realizing the devastating impact of tobacco on national life, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister has declared her vision for a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040 and also put stress on amending the existing tobacco control law to make it more compliant with the FCTC.