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‘Tobacco products need to be taxed’

In order to protect public health and increase the revenue of the government, it is necessary to impose tax on all kinds of tobacco products at a fixed rate.

The lawmakers made the remarks at a discussion on “Expected Tobacco Tax Management and Actions to Improve Public Health” at the Parliament Members’ Club at 11am on Saturday (January 22nd).
The Union hosted the discussion at the Bureau of Economic Research (BER) of Dhaka University and the Tobacco Control and Research Cell (TCRC) of Dhaka International University.

Barrister Shamim Haider Patwari, Member of Parliament for Gaibandha-1 constituency, presided over the meeting. Speaking as the chief guest, Pabna-1 seat MP. Samsul Haque Tuku. Also present among others, said Chapainawabganj-3 seat. Harun Rashid, Abida Anjum Mita of reserved women’s seat. Besides, through online zoom, Sirajganj-1 MP Dr. Habibe Millat, Rana Mohammad Swail of Nilphamari-3 constituency and Aparajita Haque of reserved women’s constituency took part in the program.

Also present on the occasion were Hossain Ali Khandaker, Coordinator, National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC), Ministry of Health; Md. Shahadat Hossain Mahmud, Dhaka International University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Ganesh Chandra Shah, Professor of Heart Foundation. Sohail Reza Chowdhury, General Secretary of the Cancer Society Mohiuddin Farooq, Vital Strategies Program Head. Shafiqul Islam, Advocate Syed Mahbubul Alam, Technical Consultant of The Union, Prominent Economist Professor Rumana Haque.

Md. On the occasion. Samsul Haque Tuku said the high price of tobacco discourages tobacco use, especially among teenagers. The government has to take into account the fact that the price of tobacco products can be increased by imposing specific taxes.

Barrister Shamim Haider Patwari said 1.5 million people were dying in South Asia because of tobacco. This death is preventable. Tobacco taxes need to be increased to deter new tobacco users. There is no substitute for quickly formulating a national tax policy to build a tobacco-free country. Besides, I am demanding a specific tax on tobacco products in the next financial year to protect public health and increase revenue.

Md. Harun Rashid said that 1.6 million people should be stopped from using tobacco every year and newcomers should be stopped from using tobacco. If tobacco use is not stopped, we will not be able to reach the SDG target. The sale of harmful products, such as tobacco, must be licensed. Tobacco companies have no choice but to go digital to prevent tax evasion. They have to list the tobacco lands and stop them from doing so with various incentives.

Dr. Habibe Millat said if there is a national policy for Bangladesh in tobacco control, it will be beneficial to make the country tobacco free by 2040. The government has enough goodwill for this. The government will soon go one step further in tobacco control by introducing specific taxes instead of the four-tiered advocacy tax system.

At the event, about half a hundred officials working on tobacco control through online software zoom participated in various Q&A sessions with MPs on tobacco control. He also lauded the members of parliament for their positive role in tobacco control.

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