Anti-tobacco campaigners demand rise in cigarette prices, taxes in budget

Prices of low-tier cigarettes must be increased to push these products out of the purchasing capacity of the youth and the poor, speakers say at a workshop for journalists

News Desk
Published : 1 April 2024, 10:54 PM
Updated : 1 April 2024, 10:54 PM

Speakers at a workshop for journalists have demanded that the government raise prices of tobacco products in the budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year starting on Jul 1.

Hiking prices of tobacco products through effective taxation will not only increase the government's revenue earnings but also reduce the prevalence of tobacco use, the speakers said.

A total of 27 journalists from print, television, and online media outlets participated in the workshop jointly held by Knowledge for Progress, or PROGGA, and Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance or ATMA at the BMA Bhaban in Dhaka on Monday, the organisers said in a statement.

The speakers said raising cigarette prices will help the government reduce healthcare costs attributable to tobacco-induced diseases.

“Therefore, in the upcoming national budget for FY 2024-25, the prices of tobacco products, particularly the price and tax rate of low-tier cigarettes, must be increased to push these products out of the purchasing capacity of the youth and the poor,” the statement said.

The speakers lamented that the prices of all types of tobacco products in Bangladesh are already considerably low.

“Compared to the prices of essential commodities, it is evident that these deadly products are getting even cheaper,” the statement said, detailing price rises in recent months.

The low-tier cigarettes constitute 75 percent of the total cigarette market of Bangladesh, but the supplementary duty imposed on this tier is merely 58 percent.

“It is, therefore, quite evident that compared to other cigarette tiers, hiking prices and supplementary duty of low-tier cigarettes will encourage a much larger number of low-income tobacco users to quit,” the statement said.

Syed Mahfuzul Huq, national professional officer at World Health Organization’s Bangladesh chapter and Hasan Shahriar, project head of tobacco control at PROGGA, delivered the keynote presentation at the workshop.

Among the discussants were Abdus Salam, Bangladesh programme manager of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Liton Haider, convener of ATMA, its Co-Convenor Mizan Chowdhury, and ABM Zubair, executive director of PROGGA.