Although the price of tobacco products has been increased in the proposed budget, the youth feel that the rate of price increase is disappointing. They say that this budget is an obstacle to creating a tobacco-free young society and creating a tobacco-free country by 2040 as announced by the Prime Minister.
Currently, 75 percent of the cigarette market is occupied by the lower level whose main consumers are mainly the poor and young people. A price hike of 50 paise per low-end cigarette will not discourage the poor and young population from taking up cigarettes. Because per capita income growth and price inflation are taken into account, cigarette prices have decreased in real terms compared to previous years. This will increase the consumption of cheap cigarettes at an alarming rate. And their health risks will increase manifold, said youths in the reaction ceremony on the announced national budget organized by the Ahsania Mission Youth for Health and Wellbeing, on Saturday morning, June 3, at the Orchid Room of the Dhaka Ahsania Mission Health Sector in Shyamli of the capital.
Marjana Muntaha, the coordinator of the forum, said that the tax rate for low-end cigarettes has been increased by 1 percent to 58%, although the 65% tax rate recommended by experts has not been considered. The tax rate at other levels has been kept unchanged at 65%. He also said that even if every piece increases by 50 paisa, due to the complexity of the change, it will be sold at an increase of 1 taka. By doing this, the company will benefit by getting additional profit opportunities, and the government will be deprived of additional revenue.
Another member of the forum, Tasnim Hasan Abir, said that young people are seriously addicted to e-cigarettes and the rate is increasing day by day. As a result, they are at serious health risk. In the proposed budget, the import tax on e-cigarettes has been increased to 212 percent. This is undoubtedly a positive step. However, as a result of this move, the recommendation of banning e-cigarettes, which was being made for a long time by experts, has not been considered, but on the contrary, it has been in a sense legalized – which is disappointing.
At this time Dhaka Ahsania Mission Youth for Health and Wellbeing presented three budget proposals which are:
- Introduction of specific excise (supplementary) duty based on a price level with uniform coverage (supplementary duty 65% of the final retail price) on all cigarette brands.
- Introduction of specific excise (supplementary) duty with uniform coverage on filtered and unfiltered bidis.
- Introduction of specific excise duty (supplementary duty 60% of final retail value) along with tax and price hike on Jorda and Gul.
- Draft Tobacco Control Act should be passed quickly.
A quarter of the total population of the country is youth. Dhaka Ahsania Mission Youth for Health and Wellbeing has also felt that in order to free this large group of people from consuming tobacco, a higher rate of tax should be imposed on tobacco products and various programs should be taken to keep the young society free from the influence of the company.