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Proper tobacco taxation can increase revenue up to 100 billion taka

Currently the tobacco taxation system in Bangladesh is complex and tier based. It is very important to formulate a strong Tobacco Tax Policy. If the existing taxation system is reformed in the light of the recommendations given by public health and anti-tobacco organizations, it would encourage nearly 6.42 million current adult smokers to quit, reduce premature deaths by 2.01 million among current smokers in the long term and raise additional tax revenue Tk 75 billion to 100 billion. At a press conference on the demand of increasing tobacco tax at the National Press Club, experts and anti-tobacco activists opined this.

With the support of The Union under Bloomberg Initiative, Bureau of Economic Research at Dhaka University, Bangladesh Cancer Society, Doctors for Health and Environment, Bangladesh Lung Foundation, Anti-tobacco Women Alliance, Bangladesh Anti-tobacco Alliance and Work for a Better Bangladesh jointly organized the press conference with the “Urge to policy makers for formulation of strict tax policy to reduce tobacco related disease and deaths” on 28 May 2018. speakers placed some recommendations for increase tax on cigarette, bidi and smokeless tobacco including reducing the existing cigarette tiers to only two tiers; eliminating the distinction between filtered and non-filtered bidis; changing the tax base of SLT to the maximum retail price; setting the minimum price for per stick and pack cigarette, biri and SLT; adding specific tax per stick etc.

Chairman of Poribesh Bachao Andolan Abu Naser Khan, President and Project director of Bangladesh Cancer Society Professor Mollah Obayedullah Baki and Professor Golam Mohiuddin Faruque, Convener of Anti-tobacco Women Alliance Farida Akhter, Coordinator of Bangladesh Anti-tobacco Alliance Saifuddin Ahmed, Focul Person of Bureau of Economic Research at Dhaka University Professor Dr. Rumana Huq, Technical Advisor of The Union Syed Mahbubul Alam and  Member secretary of Bangladesh Lung Foundation Dr. Hena Khatun was present in the program and discussed on the queries of the journalist.

Speakers said, ‘With the argument that huge amount of revenue comes from tobacco, tobacco companies are protesting against the tax increase of tobacco products since long. Still tobacco is available in Bangladesh at a low price. Research found that, increases of price reduces smoking and smoking related mortality significantly in the high and low income countries. Tobacco company’s intention is to encourage young people to use their products. The most effective way to reduce tobacco use is to raise the price of tobacco products through increasing tax.’