Bangladesh has improved its performance over cigarette taxation policy, as its score slightly rose to 2.63 from 2.38 in 2018, according to a global tobacco tax index.
The country scored 2.63 out of a scale of 5 in 2021 in the Cigarette Tax Scorecard, an initiative of the Tobacconomics program of the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), which assessed the performance of cigarette tax policies in 160 countries.
The findings of the Bangladesh part of this year's report were unveiled on Wednesday in a virtual event, organised by anti-tobacco advocacy organization PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) with support from Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids (CTFK).
The latest report shows that Bangladesh has ample opportunity to improve its performance by increasing the prices of cigarettes, increasing the tax share of price, and improving the existing tobacco tax structure, said a press release.
The report focused on four key dimensions of cigarette tax systems --cigarette prices, changes in cigarette affordability over time, share of taxes in retail cigarette prices, and cigarette tax structure.
In the function, eminent economist Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said the study findings can help our policymakers to adopt effective tobacco tax policies.
“The prices of cigarettes and other tobacco products should be hiked to bring these products beyond the purchasing power of people. Without such measures, the realization of the Prime Minister's vision to build a tobacco-free country would be impossible," he said.
Dr. Nigar Nargis, a member of the Tobacconomics team, presented the findings. "When it comes to cigarette tax structure, Bangladesh should introduce uniform specific excise taxes instead of multi-tiered ad valorem taxes and annually adjust tax rates with inflation and economic growth. At the same time, taxes on cigarettes should be increased considerably," she said.
Vandana Shah, CTFK Regional Director (South Asia programs) said although Bangladesh has made some significant progress in tobacco control, it is still lagging behind in tobacco tax and price measures. “The Government can improve public health and increase revenue by introducing effective tobacco price and tax measures in line with FCTC Article 6,” she said.
Mostafizur Rahman, Bangladesh Lead Policy Advisor of CTFK presided over the event.
Some 35 percent of Bangladeshi adults use tobacco and 38.4 million adults fall victim to secondhand smoke in public places, workspaces and public transportation. Tobacco claims 161,000 lives a year in Bangladesh.