Now is the ideal time for effective tobacco taxation

May 28, 2023

-Speakers at pre-budget discussions of Unnayan Shamannay

Increasing the retail price of all tobacco products, including cigarettes, and imposing a higher rate of supplementary duty on them will reduce tobacco consumption on the one hand, and increase government revenue on the other.

This is the view of parliamentarians, economists, public health experts, and civil society leaders, who believe now is the ideal time for effective tobacco taxation enforcement in the context of prevailing macroeconomic realities.

They made the remarks at a pre-budget discussion organized by Unnayan Shamannay on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.

Chairperson of Unnayan Shammanay and former Governor of Bangladesh Bank Professor, Dr. Atiur Rahman said, “Every year the price of tobacco products is increased little by little and the duty on them remains unchanged. But taking into account the increase in per capita income and inflation, the effective implementation of tobacco products taxation is possible only by increasing the prices at one stroke and imposing a specific supplementary duty on those increased prices.”

Anti-tobacco national and international researchers and social organizations have already raised proposals for increasing the price of tobacco products at the policy-making level including the Ministry of Finance, NBR, in view of the budget for the coming 2023-24 fiscal year. These proposals were highlighted in the program through a video presentation.

Lutfun Nessa Khan, MP (Women’s Constituency 48), Mrinal Kanti Das, MP (Munshiganj 3), and Md. Manowar Hossain Chowdhury, MP (Gaibandha 4), was present as the honorable speaker at the event. They expressed their full solidarity with the movement for the implementation of tobacco products to achieve the goal of creating a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040.

Professor of North South University Helal Ahmed, Professor Dr. Syed Abdul Hameed from Dhaka University, CPD Research Fellow Syed Yusuf Sadat, and Lead Economist of Unnayan Shamannay Robart Shuvro Guda were present as discussants. Shaheen Ul Alam, Head of Programs, from Unnayan Shamannay, presided over the discussion session.

They opined that tobacco use should be reduced for the long-term economic protection of the country as well as for the protection of public health. Mr. Guda demanded equal percentages of taxes on all grades of cigarettes as cigarette companies are getting extra benefits as low-tier cigarettes have a lower supplementary duty (57%) than other grades of cigarettes (65%).

Former national footballer Abdul Ghaffar and architect Iqbal Habib were present as representatives of civil society. BIDS senior research fellow Dr. in the speech of the president. S. M. Zulfikar Ali said that there is no basis for the fear of tax loss by increasing the price of tobacco products. Rather, in the medium term, i.e. in the next 2-3 years, by increasing the price of tobacco products, additional tax revenue is possible for the government.

The speakers and experts urged the government to take necessary steps to implement tobacco products in the upcoming budget.

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