The Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance proposed introducing a tiered specific excise tax with a uniform tax burden -- Supplementary Duty share of 65% of the retail price -- across all cigarette brands, which, it says, if implemented, will reduce consumption of smoked tobacco.
At a virtual meeting on Thursday, speakers said the implementation of the proposal would encourage 1.1 million people to quit smoking, prevent premature deaths of 390,000 adults and 400,000 youth, and help earn Tk3,400 crore in additional revenue from cigarettes as supplementary duty, health development surcharge and value-added tax (VAT).
The proposed national budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 has kept tobacco prices almost unchanged. It hikes prices of only high and premium cigarette brands from Tk97 to Tk102 and from Tk 128 to Tk135 per 10 sticks.
The anti-tobacco alliance urged the government to set the prices for 10 sticks of low-tier cigarettes at Tk50, medium-tier at Tk70, high tier at Tk110 and premium tier at Tk140, which would be inclusive of specific supplementary duty of Tk32.50, Tk45.50, Tk71.50 and Tk91 respectively.
It also suggested setting the retail price of 25 non-filtered bidi sticks at Tk25 after imposing a specific supplementary duty of Tk11.25 (45%). The price was fixed at Tk18 for the current fiscal year.
Among chewing or smokeless tobacco products, the price per 10-gram jarda should be Tk45, including specific supplementary duty of Tk27.00 (60%), and the price of 10-gram gul should be Tk25, including a specific supplementary duty of Tk15.00 (60%), the anti-tobacco group said.
Some 50 members attended the virtual meeting hosted by Nadira Kiran, co-convener of the alliance.
Mizan Chowdhury, co-convener, presented activities of the organisation to attendees.
A special discussion was participated by Zahirul Alam, head of news and current affairs, NTV; and Abu Kawser, joint news editor, NewsBangla24.com.
Md Mostafizur Rahman, lead policy advisor for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Bangladesh; and Md Hasan Shahriar, head of programme, Progga, attended the meeting as guest speakers.