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Speakers for increasing prices of low-tier cigarettes

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Speakers at a seminar today proposed raising the price of low-tier cigarettes to boost revenue generation for the government and also minimize health risks.

They said although the low-tier cigarettes occupy almost 75 percent of the whole industry, their price remained unchanged over the last two years. As a result, the number of smokers at this level is not declining.

The speakers came up with such suggestions at a seminar organized jointly by Dhaka Ahsania Mission and the Economic Reporters’ Forum (ERF), titled ‘Tobacco Price and Tax’, held at the ERF auditorium in the capital on Saturday, according to a press statement.

Presided over by ERF President Sharmeen Rinvy, its general secretary SM Rashidul Islam, Dhaka Ahsania Mission deputy director Mokhlesur Rahman, CTFK Grants manager Abdus Salam Mia spoke, among others, on the occasion.

Director (research) of Unnayan Shamannay Abdullah Nadvy made the key-note presentation.

The speakers said that the price of low-tier cigarettes has remained unchanged over the last two years. They suggested that the price of cigarettes should be increased considering the rise in per capita income and inflation.

They said there is no alternative to raising the price of tobacco products to turn Bangladesh into a tobacco-free country by 2041 as announced earlier by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Nadvi, in his keynote presentation, said that the current duty structure of cigarettes is complex and it should be more simplified.

He proposed making the price of every cigarette packet of 10 sticks at the low-tier to Tk 50 from the existing Tk 39 while in the mid-tier, the price of cigarette packets should be Tk 75 from Tk 63.

Nadvy also suggested raising the price of cigarettes at the high tier specifically.

“If this proposal is implemented, the revenue of the government will be boosted while the number of smokers will be reduced by 13 lakh. Besides, some 9 lakh youths will be discouraged to continue smoking,” he added.

In his welcome address, deputy director of Dhaka Ahsania Mission Mokhlesur Rahman said that the government has already announced to turn Bangladesh into a smoking-free country by 2041 and to materialize this, there is no alternative for raising the duty on cigarettes and tobacco products.

CTFK Grants manager Abdus Salama Mia said that it is very much necessary to control the use of tobacco in turning Bangladesh into a developed country. “This will not only help alleviate poverty but also reduce the cost of the government in addressing the tobacco-related diseases.”

ERF general secretary SM Rashidul Islam said that the government is in dilemma over tobacco as it wants to control tobacco on one hand, and the government also depends on tobacco products for boosting revenue on the other hand.

“But, to reduce the number of smokers, the price of cigarettes at the low-tier should be increased as around 75 percent of smokers consume cigarettes at the low-tier,” he added.

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