Raising the price of cigarettes to the lower level to reduce health risks

Experts Say at ERF-Ahsania Mission Seminar

Guests and participants at a seminar entitled “Tobacco Prices and Taxes” held at the ERF Auditorium in Dhaka. Photo: Collected

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Guests and participants at a seminar entitled “Tobacco Prices and Taxes” held at the ERF Auditorium in Dhaka. Photo: Collected

The price of cigarettes at the lower tier should be increased to increase revenue generation for the government and minimize health risks, speakers told a seminar yesterday.

The Dhaka Ahsania Mission and the Business Journalists Forum (ERF) organized the seminar titled “Tobacco Price and Tax” at the ERF Auditorium in Dhaka. Speakers said that although the share of low-end cigarettes represents almost 75% of the entire industry, their price has remained unchanged over the past two years.

Therefore, the number of smokers at this level does not decrease.

They also said the price of cigarettes should be increased in view of rising per capita income and inflation.

There is no alternative but to increase the price of tobacco products to make Bangladesh a tobacco-free country by 2041 as announced earlier by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, they added.

During the keynote address, Abdullah Nadvy, Director (Research) of Unnayan Shamannay, said that the current cigarette duty structure is complex and should be further simplified.

He proposed to increase the price of each 10-stick pack of cigarettes to the lower level of 50 Tk from the existing 39 Tk, while the price of mid-tier cigarette pack should be 75 TK from 63 Tk . Also, Nadvy suggested raising the price. cigarettes at the upper tier in particular.

“If this proposal is implemented, government revenue will be increased while the number of smokers will be reduced by 13 lakh. Additionally, some 9 lakh young people will be discouraged from continuing to smoke,” he added.

Mokhlesur Rahman, Deputy Director of Dhaka Ahsania Mission, said the government has already announced its intention to make Bangladesh a tobacco-free country by 2041 and to make this happen, there is no alternative to smoking. increase in duties on cigarettes and tobacco products.

CTFK Grants Manager Abdus Salama Mia said controlling tobacco use is absolutely necessary to make Bangladesh a developed country.

“This will not only help reduce poverty, but also reduce the cost of government in the fight against tobacco-related diseases,” he added.

ERF Secretary General SM Rashidul Islam said the government faced a dilemma on tobacco as it wanted to control tobacco on the one hand while the government also depended on tobacco products to increase its revenue from tobacco. ‘somewhere else.

“But in order to reduce the number of smokers, the price of low-level cigarettes should be increased because about 75% of smokers consume low-level cigarettes,” he added.

ERF President Sharmeen Rinvy chaired the program.

Bangladesh is one of the largest tobacco consumers in the world and nearly 8,400 crore of cigarettes are sold every year. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2017, some 35.3% of adults in the country use tobacco products.

Cigarettes are the main source of value added tax and additional duties for the government. According to the NBR’s annual report, it accounted for 30% or Tk 25,362 crore of the total revenue for the fiscal year 2019-2020, down 8% from the previous year’s Tk 27,618 crore.

The average monthly expenditure for cigarettes was Tk 1,077.7 and for bidis Tk 342, according to GATS.

A 2019 study by the Bangladesh Cancer Society showed that tobacco use caused 126,000 deaths in the country. The figure was 13.5% of deaths from all causes in Bangladesh in 2018.

However, tobacco-related deaths and illnesses alone cost the economy about Tka 30,560 crore annually, which is equivalent to 1.4 percent of the country’s national GDP in 2017-2018, according to the study.

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