PRESS RELEASE: In order to reduce the use of tobacco in the protection of public health, the MPs have supported increasing the tax on tobacco products in the budget of the coming 2021-22 fiscal year. Therefore, they expressed their determination to request the Hon’ble Finance Minister to increase the price of tobacco products by imposing specific taxes.
They made the remark at a webinar titled ‘Upcoming Budget: Increasing Tobacco Tax to Protect Public Health, Additional Revenue Earning and Our Expectations’ organized by Tobacco Free Bangladesh Platform on Monday, May 3, 2021. Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury MP, President of Tobacco Free Bangladesh Platform coordinated the webinar.
At the beginning of the webinar, Professor Sohel Reza Choudhury, Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Research, National Heart Foundation Hospital presented the tax proposal. The proposal calls for a specific duty of 65 per cent on the retail price of cigarettes, 45 per cent on bidis and 60 per cent on the retail price of smokeless tobacco products. If this proposal is implemented, the supplementary duty and VAT will be an additional revenue of Tk 30 thousand crore.
The proposal also said that raising tobacco prices and reducing its availability would encourage about 1.1 million adult smokers to quit smoking and discourage more than 800,000 young people from starting smoking. Through which it will be possible to prevent the untimely death of 3 lakh 90 thousand current smokers and 4 lakh young people.
Members of Parliament who took part in the webinar supported the proposal to increase the price of tobacco products through specific taxes. They agreed to send a proposal to the Finance Minister and the National Board of Revenue to reduce tobacco use with emphasis on public health.
Saber Hossain Chowdhury said in the webinar that the Prime Minister has given instructions to implement tobacco free Bangladesh by 2040. Parliamentarians, various ministries, government departments, public health experts all have to work together to implement this directive. This goal can be achieved by amending the law with imposing specific tax on tobacco products. He also stressed on the implementation of the tobacco free Bangladesh roadmap.
Mr. Rashed Khan Menon MP, Begum Wasika Ayesha Khan MP and Khadijatul Anwar MP joined the webinar. Among others were the President of National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh, National Professor Brigadier (Retd.) Abdul Malik; Former Director of the National Institute of Disease of Chest & Hospital (NIDCH) Prof. Mostafizur Rahman; National Professional Officer (NCD) of the Bangladesh Country Office of the World Health Organization Dr. Syed Mahfuzul Haque; Kazi Jebunnesa Begum, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; Zillur Rahman Chowdhury, Coordinator, National Tobacco Control Cell and Mostafizur Rahman, Lead Policy Advisor, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.