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Increasing tobacco products’ prices demanded

The anti-tobacco campaigning organisations demanded to increase the prices of tobacco products by introducing specific taxes, in a bid to save lives.

The demand was made at a press conference arranged by research and advocacy organisation PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) and Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) at the Tofazzal Hossain Manik Mia auditorium of Jatiya Press Club in the capital on Tuesday.

At the press conference, they also unveiled budget proposals regarding tobacco prices and taxes.

Addressing the press conference, eminent economist and convener of the National Anti-Tobacco Platform, Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said, “Implementation of their budget proposals will increase revenue earnings, lower medical expenses, and expedite the realization of the PM’s vision of making Bangladesh tobacco-free by 2040.”

The budget proposals for FY 2022-23 are as follows: In the low-tier of cigarettes, the retail price should be set at 50 for 10 sticks, followed by BDT 32.50 as specific supplementary duty (SD), in the medium-tier, the retail price should be set at BDT 75 and Supplementary Duty at BDT 48.75; and in the high-tier, the retail price and supplementary duty for 10 sticks should be followed by BDT 120 and 78.00 respectively and in the premium tier, the numbers should be BDT 150 and BDT 97.50.

The proposals also recommended in the FY 2022-23 to 2027-28 mid-term period, the number of cigarette tiers should be reduced from 04 (four) to 02 (two). This is because the existing four-tiered ad valorem structure has made cigarettes cheaper and more affordable. Consumers tend to switch to cheaper brands, rather than quit, once the prices are increased.

Dr. Rumana Huque, Professor of Department of Economics at the University of Dhaka, Syed Yusuf Saadat, Research Fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Md. Mostafizur Rahman, Lead Policy Advisor for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Bangladesh, ABM Zubair, Executive Director, PROGGA and leaders of different anti-tobacco organizations were also present.

Nadira Kiron, Co-convener of ATMA, hosted the event whereas Md. Hasan Shahriar, Head of Tobacco Control, PROGGA, presented the budget proposals.