POST TIME: 8 June, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 7 June, 2018 11:27:16 PM
Campaigners feel PM order for tobacco-free Bangladesh ignored

Campaigners feel PM order for tobacco-free Bangladesh ignored

Anti-tobacco campaigners of the country have expressed disappointment at the budgetary measures on tobacco. They said the government has once again let multinational tobacco companies expand their death-trade by leaving the prices of pricy cigarettes untouched (Tk. 101 per 10 sticks) for three consecutive years. The proposed budget has kept the price of cigarettes in high-tiers unchanged, leaving it Tk 101 for 10 sticks. The supplementary duty on this tier also remained the same—65 per cent.

Anti-tobacco campaigners said in a post-budget press release that consumption of cigarettes of this price slab is widespread and constitutes the second largest source of cigarette revenues. Moreover, the high-tier cigarettes that cost Tk. 70 per 10 sticks has seen only a 7 per cent rise, leaving the price at Tk. 75.

However, finance minister AMA Muhit, while delivering his budget speech, said: “Maintaining harmony with the anti-smoking state policies of the states around the world, decreasing use of tobacco, reducing health risk and increasing revenue collection are the big challenges of this sector.”

Anti-tobacco campaigners said the supplementary duty on these cigarettes is again kept at the same 65 per cent. This will

only create even more opportunities for the multinational tobacco companies to generate additional profits.

In the medium-tier, the price of 10 sticks of cigarettes has been increased to Tk. 48 from Tk. 45 and the supplementary

duty has been increased to 65 per cent from 63 per cent.  On the other hand, the proposed budget has raised the price for the lowest slab of 10 cigarettes to Tk. 32 from Tk, 27 and the supplementary duty has been increased to 55 per cent from 52 per cent.

The anti-tobacco campaigners said considering the increase in national per capita Income and inflation, the increase in cigarette prices in the proposed budget is quite negligible and will not have any significant impact in curbing consumption of cigarettes in Bangladesh.

Anti-tobacco organisations have long been campaigning for introduction of a single tier-tax structure and specific tax system. The proposed budget has utterly failed to give any directive in this regard. It is impossible to curb the use of tobacco if policymakers let tobacco companies expand their business like this.