Budget to make tobacco more affordable and increase health risks: activists

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Anti-tobacco activists, at a post-budget press conference on Saturday, said the proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year will increase the use of cigarettes and other tobacco products among the poor and young .

It will also deprive the government of additional revenue and also increase health expenditure, they said at the event organized by Progga (Knowledge for Progress) and Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) at Dhaka Reporters Unity.

Activists further said that the proposed budget increases the price of low-level cigarettes by only 2.56% and that the prices of jarda, gul and bidi remained unchanged. 75% of all cigarette smokers are low-end cigarette users, most of whom belong to the poor and young demographics.

The medium, high and premium tiers increased by 3.17%, 8.82% and 5.18% respectively, according to a press release. The additional duty on low-level cigarettes remained unchanged at the current level of 57% while the retail price saw Tk1 increase, they added.

As a result, tobacco products will become much cheaper than commodities, encouraging young and poor people to become addicted to this deadly addiction and putting public health at grave risk.

Prominent economist and head of the National Anti-Tobacco Platform, Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, said, “In the heavily used low-end cigarettes, the price has only been increased by 10 paisa per stick. The prices of jarda, gul and bidi did not increase. If the government implements our proposals, it will exponentially increase revenues and facilitate the building of a tobacco-free country.

Mahfuz Kabir, Research Director of the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies, said: “The price of tobacco products should be increased by imposing a specific additional duty. This will make it easier to forecast revenue accumulation and help the National Board Revenue to progress. a step towards the establishment of a simple tax policy on tobacco.

Campaigners have urged the government to increase the price of tobacco products by imposing a specific additional tax in the budget as this will encourage 1.3 million adults to quit smoking.

The introduction of a specific additional duty will help increase the prices of cigarettes and other tobacco products, prevent the deaths of 445,000 adults and 448,000 young people and generate additional income worth 9,200 000,000,000,000,000 Tk only on cigarettes in the form of additional duty, health development surcharge and VAT.

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