Kazi Rafiqul Alam, President of Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM), has recently written a request letter to 350 MPs to take a role in formulating and implementing a strong tobacco tariff policy for the upcoming 2022-23 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 of time 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 hike in the upcoming 2022-23 budget. These are-
- Introduce price-based excise (supplementary) duty on all cigarette brands with uniform cover (supplementary duty 65% of the final retail price) i.e., fix the retail price of TK 50 per 10 packs of cigarettes at the lower tier and add TK 32.50 as a specific supplementary duty; At the middle tier, the retail price of 10 sticks of cigarettes need to be fixed at TK 75 and a specific supplementary duty of TK 48.75 to be imposed; At the high tier, the retail price of every 10 sticks of cigarettes is to fix at TK 120 and a specific supplementary duty of TK 78 is to impose; And fixing a retail price of TK 150 per 10 sticks of cigarettes at a premium level and imposing a specific supplementary duty of TK 97.50.
- Introduce specific excise (supplementary) duty on filtered and unfiltered bidis with uniform cover (45% of the final retail price of supplementary duty) i.e., fix the retail price of unfiltered bidis at TK 25 and impose a specific supplementary duty of Tk 11.25; And fixing the retail price of a 20-sticked bidi with a filter at TK 20 and imposing a specific supplementary duty of TK 9.
- Introduce specific excise (supplementary) duty including tax and price increase on jorda and gul (60% of the final retail price of supplementary duty), i.e., fix the retail price of jorda at TK 45 per 10 grams and impose a fixed supplementary duty of Tk 27; And fixing a retail price of TK 25 per 10 grams of gul and imposing a fixed supplementary duty of TK 15.
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.
It may be mentioned that Kazi Firoz Rashid, Member of Parliament for Dhaka-6 constituency has already given DO letter in response to the call of Kazi Rafiqul Alam, President of Dhaka Ahsania Mission.