Increase of actual price and tax of tobacco products will reduce the use of tobacco and will increase government revenue. Also healthcare expenditure will reduce in the long term. Tobacco companies get benefited from the existing tax system of Bangladesh. It important to look into that, tobacco companies profit should not increase while increasing tax. To reduce the use of tobacco, it is important to formulate national tobacco tax policy as per the directions of the Honorable Prime Minister. Activists urged to impose specific tax on tobacco products in a discussion meeting on “Importance of formulating tobacco tax policy to prevent tobacco related health hazard” on 11 March 2019 at National Press Club organized by Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust.
Dr. Syed Mahfuzul Huq, National Professional Officer of WHO presented key note speech in the discussion meeting. Speeches given by Dr. Rumana Huq, Professor of Economics, Dhaka University; Syed Mahbubul Alam, Technical Advisor of The Union; Toufiq Maruf, President of Health Reporters Forum and Gaous Pearee, Director of WBB Trust.
Speakers said, government received 23,000 crore taka from tobacco sector, but spend 30,000 crore taka annually for the treatment of tobacco-related diseases. Besides, tobacco companies are evading huge amount of government revenue by taking opportunity of weak tax system of Bangladesh. They are opposing tax increase on tobacco products showing different excuses. On the other hand, 67% of deaths occur in Bangladesh due to non-communicable diseases. According to research, at least 50% of the people who use tobacco use will die prematurely due to tobacco-related diseases. These deaths are preventable. The demand of any product decrease while price increase. The success in tobacco control can be achieved through increasing the actual price and tax and reducing the supply. In this situation, strict action should be taken for tobacco control. It is not possible to achieve international commitments, health sector development and other targets by adopting liberal policies for tobacco taxation.