• July 24, 2024

‘Tobacco Too Cheap’

 ‘Tobacco Too Cheap’
Photo: RODWORKS

The tobacco tax proposed in Bangladesh’s 2024–2025 budget will make tobacco products cheaper and more affordable, according to critics.

According to the Daily Sun, health groups believe the proposal will encourage youth to use tobacco products, leading to an increase in tobacco-related deaths and illnesses. “Consequently, government expenditure on public health will rise,” the PROGGA and ATMA health groups wrote in a statement. “The proposed budget will also result in the government losing the opportunity to earn an additional BDT10,000 crore [850.44 million] in revenues.”

The statement notes that the retail price increase is minimal. “This means the hike per stick is only BDT0.50 (11.11 percent). The supplementary duty has been raised by 2 percent from the existing 58 percent to 60 percent.”

“It should be noted that, very recently, the third report of Tobacconomics Cigarette Tax Scorecard has revealed a grim picture of the affordability of cigarettes in Bangladesh. Bangladesh scored 1.13 out of 5. The country’s score in the previous report was 2.38,” the statement said.

“The retail price as well as the [supplementary duty] imposed on the low-tier cigarettes, which holds 75 percent of cigarette market share, has seen a very negligible change. We demand that the government set the retail price at least BDT60 and [supplementary duty] 63 percent so that it reduces the affordability of cigarettes, safeguards the youth and increases the revenue of the government manifold,” said PROGGA Executive Director ABM Zubair.