‘Tobacco needs to be more costly to discourage smoking’

Published : 04 Apr 2021 09:30 PM

'To rid the country of tobacco menace, there is no alternative to further effective tobacco taxation. All government and non-government stakeholders must come together to do so,' said the Deputy Speaker of the  Parliament Fazle Rabbi Miah MP in a Webinar entitled ‘Tobacco Taxation: Thoughts for Budget 2021-'22’ as the Chief Guest on Sunday. 

Former Health Minister and Satkhira-3 MP Professor Ruhal Haque was present in the webinar as the Special Guest. Bangabandhu Chair Professor of Dhaka University and former Governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr. Atiur Rahman presented the keynote paper at the webinar. Key officials from National Board of Revenue and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare participated into the discussion. Representatives from various civil society organisations involved in anti-tobacco campaigns were also present.

In the keynote speech, Dr. Atiur Rahman said to realise the Honorable Prime Minister’s goal to get rid Bangladesh of tobacco by 2040, it is now high time to ensure further effective tobacco taxation.

Tobacco needs to be more expensive to discourage the vulnerable poor and the children. Price of the lower tier of the cigarettes should be increased to discourge the children and the poor section of people to smoke. 

For the fiscal year 2021-22, he proposed to increase the declared retail price of Cigarette, Bidi, Gul and Jarda and to impose specific supplementary duties on all of them. He further added that if these proposals are realised, not only millions of people will be saved from the curse of tobacco but also the government may earn up to 12 percent additional revenue. 

Professor Ruhal Haque MP said without significantly increasing tax on tobacco, the national target of controlling tobacco consumption cannot be fulfilled. At the same time social awareness about the issue must also be enhanced. 

Discussants also talked about the band role fraud, increasing efficiency of National Board of Revenue to impose tobacco taxes, increasing taxes on income from tobacco consumption and the marketing etc.