Bangladesh is one of the countries where tobacco products are cheaper. Tobacco is not a basic commodity, rather it is a unhealthy luxury product and this is a product that brings death for its consumer. So, to discourage the use of such products and to improve the public health, it is necessary to impose high rated tax on this product.
On 25 April 2018, speakers opined this in a seminar titled on “Importance of raising tobacco tax to achieve SDG” jointly organized by Bureau of Economic Research (BER)-University of Dhaka, Bangladesh Health Reporter’s Forum and Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust.
Mozaffar Hossain Poltu, President of NATAB and Advisor of BATA presided over the seminar while Mohammad Ruhul Quddus, Additional Secretary (Budget and Development) at Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; Dr. Syed Mahfuzul Huq, National Professional Officer of WHO; Professor Dr. Golam Mohiuddin Faruq, Project Director at Bangladesh Cancer Society; Nurul Islam Hasib, Vice-President of Bangladesh Health Reporter’s Forum; Syed Mahbubul Alam, Technical Advisor of The Union, Gaous Pearee, Director at WBB Trust gave speech.
Dr. Rumana Huq, Professor at department of Economics, University of Dhaka presented key-note paper in the seminar. She said, “Currently, 162,200 people die every year in Bangladesh due to tobacco related diseases and 1.4 percent of GDP is spent only for the treatment of diseases cause for tobacco use. Tobacco control is supportive in fulfilling the target of SDG. But our tobacco tax structure is very weak. By preventing tobacco industries interference and imposing taxes properly, it is possible to collect 100 billion taka from tobacco.
Speakers said, “We were successful in achieving Millennium Development Goals. Now we have to work sincerely to achieve SDG. How much money we earn from a tobacco company is not the main issue. To prevent the death due to tobacco use in our country, tax has to be imposed on tobacco in high rate. There are several strategies to reduce the demand for tobacco, among which one of the techniques is to increase tobacco tax.
It is widely accepted worldwide that, tobacco consumption will be reduced if tobacco tax is increased. But tobacco industries have much more influence on tobacco tax increase in our country. Tobacco companies spread many kinds of confusion before the budget. And, due to complex structure, tax could not be possible to collect according to the target. Increasing tax on tobacco will block to create new smokers. So, Tax should be imposed at a higher rate on tobacco for the sake of future generation."