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Specific taxation on tobacco products to increase revenue

Published : 22 Jan 2022 09:33 PM

Lawmakers, researchers, experts on public health and anti-tobacco activists at a discussion have said that the government must impose specific taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products to protect the public health and increase the revenue income. 

 The Union, the Bureau of Economic Research (BER) of Dhaka University and the Tobacco Control and Research Cell (TCRC) of Dhaka International University jointly arranged the discussion on ‘Expected Tobacco Tax Management and Responsibilities to Improve Public Health’ at Parliament Members’ Club in Dhaka  on Saturday (January 22). 

 Barrister Shameem Haider Patwary, MP from Gaibandha-1 constituency, presided over the discussion, while SM Abdullah, an associate professor of Department of Economics at Dhaka University, presented the keynote paper. 

 Advocate Shamsul Haque Tuku, MP from Pabna-1 constituency, spoke at the event as the chief guest, while it was addressed, among others, by Md Harunur Rashid, MP from Chapai Nawabganj-3 constituency; and Abida Anjum Mita, an Woman MP. Dr Md Habibe Millat, MP from Sirajganj-2 constituency; Rana Mohammad Sohail, MP from Nilphamari-3 constituency; and Aparajita Haque, an Woman MP, also spoke at the event through video conferencing. 

 Hossain Ali Khandaker, Coordinator of National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC) of Health Ministry; Dr Md Shahadat Hossain Mahmud; Director General of Health Economics Unit, Prof Ganesh Chandra Shaha, Vice Chancellor of Dhaka International University, Prof Dr Sohail Reza Chowdhury of Heart Foundation, Mohiuddin Faruk, General Secretary of Bangladesh Cancer Society, Md Shafiqul Islam, Head of Vital Strategies Program, Advocate Syed Mahbubul Alam, Technical Adviser of The Union, Prof Dr Rumana Haque of Dhaka University, and anti-tobacco activist Syed Saiful Alam Shovan also attended the function. 

 In his speech, Shamsul Haque Tuku said that the high price of tobacco products discourages the use of the harmful products. The government should consider the fact that the price can be increased by imposing specific taxes.  Barrister Shameem Haider Patwary said that about 1.5 million people die in South Asia due to tobacco-related disease. This death is preventable. Tobacco taxes need to be increased to prevent new tobacco users. There is no alternative to formulating a national tax policy to build a tobacco-free country, he added. 

 The lawmaker called upon the government to impose specific taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products in the upcoming budget to protect public health and increase revenue income.

 Md Harunur Rashid said that about 1.8 million people need to stop smoking every year. The members of the new generation need to refrain from using tobacco. “If tobacco use is not stopped in the country, we will not be able to reach the SDG target,” he said. 

 The lawmaker demanded introducing licensing system in the sale of harmful products like tobacco. He, however, said that there is no alternative to go to digital system to prevent tax evasion by the tobacco companies. 

 Dr Habibe Millat said if there is a national tax policy for Bangladesh in tobacco control, it would be possible to make the country tobacco-free by 2040. The government has goodwill for this.