‘Increasing the price of tobacco products through tax increases is an internationally pursued method to discourage tobacco use in public health protection. In this context, it is important to increase taxes and prices of tobacco products in the upcoming 2022-23 budget to play a supportive role in achieving ‘Tobacco-Free Bangladesh’ by 2040 as promised by the Hon’ble Prime Minister. And the tobacco tax should be increased in such a way that the use of tobacco is reduced and discouraged, ”said the lawmakers and discussants at a pre-budget press conference organized by the Dhaka Ahsania Mission at the Zahur Hossain Chowdhury Hall, National Press Club.
The press conference was held at 11 am on Thursday, May 26, 2022. The program was chaired by Iqbal Masud, Director, Health and WASH Sector, Dhaka Ahsania Mission.
The chief guest at the meeting was Prof. Dr. Md. Habibe Millat, MP and the special guest was Barrister Shamim Haider Patwari, MP. Prof. Dr. Arup Ratan Choudhury, Founder President, MANAS; Md. Mostafizur Rahman, Lead Policy Advisor, CTFK-Bangladesh, Abdus Salam Mia, Grants Manager, CTFK-Bangladesh and SM Rashedul Islam, General Secretary, Economic Reporters Forum (ERF) were present as the speaker at the meeting.
Abdullah Nadvi, Director (Research), Unnayan Shamannay presented the keynote address at the seminar moderated by Sharmin Akter Rini, Program Officer, Tobacco Control Project, Dhaka Ahsania Mission. Welcoming remarks were made by Md. Shariful Islam, Project Coordinator, Tobacco Control Project, Dhaka Ahsania Mission.
SM Rashedul Islam, General Secretary, Economic Reporters Forum (ERF), said that in order to get a tobacco-free Bangladesh, the tax system must be reformed.
Abdus Salam Mia, Grants Manager, CTFK-Bangladesh, said that due to a lack of effective taxation, tobacco products are becoming very cheap and readily available in Bangladesh. Therefore, the tax on tobacco should be increased.
Prof. Dr. Arup Ratan Choudhury, Founding President, MANAS said that there is no alternative to increasing tobacco tax if a tobacco-free Bangladesh is to be built as directed by the Hon’ble Prime Minister.
Md. Mostafizur Rahman, Lead Policy Advisor, CTFK-Bangladesh, said that if the government accepts the tax proposal made at the press conference, the number of tobacco users will be decreased and new users will be discouraged.
Iqbal Masud, Director of the Health and WASH Sector of Dhaka Ahsania Mission, said the current tobacco tax structure is too complex that is a major obstacle to discouraging tobacco use. We have to simplify this tax structure. By doing this, if the tobacco tax is increased in an appropriate manner, it will play an effective role in reducing tobacco use.
Barrister Shamim Haider Patwari, MP, said there was a difference between the tobacco tax and other taxes. And the National Board of Revenue must understand this. Because the amount of tax collected due to tobacco is many times more than the loss of public health.
Prof. Dr. Md. Habibe Millat, MP said that tobacco is a very harmful product for public health. Its financial loss is not less. As a result, steps must be taken in all cases to reduce tobacco use. In particular, it is very important to increase the tobacco tax to discourage the use of tobacco as per the directives of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to make the country tobacco-free by 2040.