A total of 97 Members of Parliament (MPs) has been signed a letter to protect public health to the finance minister recommending increase taxes and prices of all kinds of tobacco products including cigarettes in the 2022-23 final national budget. It will be possible to save innumerable people from premature death and to keep away from using tobacco uses if this recommendation is implemented. Also earning additional revenue will be possible. All of these will help to achieve Tobacco-Free Bangladesh by 2040 announced by the Prime Minister. The letter has been initiated by the ‘Bangladesh Parliamentary Forum for Health & Wellbeing’.
Today, Tuesday, 22 June, the letter has been handed over to Mr. Abu Hena Md. Rahmatul Muneem, chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) by dr. Nizam Uddin Ahmed, executive director and director, dr. Md. Rafiqul Islam of Shastho Shurokkha Foundation, the secretariat organization of ‘Bangladesh Parliamentary Forum for Health & Wellbeing’.
Mr. Abu Hena Md. Rahmatul Muneem said, ‘The issue of raising the tax on tobacco products is now under the jurisdiction and consideration of the Hon’ble Members of Parliament. If they recommend raising this issue in the Parliament session, it will be possible to implement it by coordinating the Ministry of Finance and us (National Board of Revenue).’
In the letter, MPs recommend increasing the price of lower and medium tire cigarettes and bidis to save low-income people. It also mentioned that, if the recommendations are implemented, the additional revenue could be used to achieve SDG’s target of 3.4 per cent – to reduce non-communicable disease deaths by one-third by 2030. Increasing the price of low-end cigarettes could protect low-income cigarette users. They are expending their 21% income on tobacco products. If this money is spent on education instead of tobacco products, it will be possible to increase the total cost of education of their children by 11%.
Tobacco control activities have been significantly intensified since 2009. However, still 35.3 percent of adults (37.4 million) in Bangladesh use tobacco (smoking and non-smokers), while about 38.4 million adults are exposed to secondhand smoke in various public places, workplaces and public transport without smoking (GATS 2017). More than 1 lakh 61 thousand people die every year in Bangladesh due to tobacco use. In the 2016-17 financial year, the amount of economic loss (loss of medical expenses and productivity) of tobacco use was 30,560 crore rupees.