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Letter to 296 MPs for tobacco tax and price increase in the budget

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Kazi Rafiqul Alam, President of Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM), has recently written a request letter to 296 MPs to take a role in formulating and implementing a strong tobacco tariff policy for the upcoming 2024-25 fiscal year budget to increase the price of all tobacco products including cigarettes and to build a tobacco-free Bangladesh 2040 as announced by the Hon’ble Prime Minister.

In a letter addressed to each Member of Parliament separately, Kazi Rafiqul Alam said, “Since 2009, the current government has carried out massive socio-economic development, as well as tobacco control activities, has been strengthened.” Tobacco use has decreased by 18.5 percent in 2017 (relative reduction) as compared to 2009. Although this reduction in tobacco use in a short period is a sign of the government’s success, there are still about 37.8 million adults in Bangladesh who use tobacco (smoking and smokeless), and about 38.4 million adults who do not smoke are exposed to secondhand smoke in various public places, workplaces, and public transport (GATS 2017). Tobacco use kills more than 161,000 people in Bangladesh every year (Tobacco Atlas, 2020). Besides, the economic loss (medical expenses and loss of productivity) of tobacco use in the 2016-17 financial year was Tk 30,560 crore.

In his letter, Kazi Rafiqul Alam put forward three proposals for tobacco tax and price hikes in the upcoming 2024-25 budget. These are-

  1. Fixing 60 takes the retail price per 10 packs of low-tier cigarettes, 80 takas of middle-tier, 130 takas of high-tier, and 170 takas of per 10 premium-tier cigarettes. Imposition of 65% supplementary duty on low-grade cigarettes like other grades;
  2. Fixing the retail price of unfiltered 25 stick bidis at Tk 25 and imposing a supplementary duty of 45%;
  3. Imposing an additional duty of 60% fixing the retail price of Jorda at Tk 55 per 10 gm, and gul at Tk 30 per 10 gm.

Kazi Rafiqul Alam, president of the Dhaka Ahsania Mission, called on the lawmakers to support the price hike through a specific tax on tobacco products in the next budget session and submit a demi official letter of the proposal (DO letter) to the finance minister.

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