Research and advocacy organisation Progga (Knowledge for Progress) has demanded imposing specific taxes on tobacco to achieve a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040.
On the occasion of the World No Tobacco Day 2021, ABM Zubair, executive director of the organisation, said increasing taxes on tobacco was a pro-poor measure, according to a press release.
The day is being observed today (31 May 2021) around the globe with the theme 'Commit to Quit.'
In Bangladesh, the theme for the day is 'Asun Amra Protigga Kori, Jibon Bachate Tamak Chari.'
Progga has suggested to take measures such as removing the provision of 'designated smoking area,' banning smoking in all public places, work places, and public transport, prohibiting the display of tobacco products at points of sale, banning 'corporate social responsibility' activities of tobacco companies and banning the sale of single sticks, unpackaged smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
The organization also demanded an amendment to tobacco control law for adopting and implementing the measures.
Currently, the lowest income people have a much higher rate (48%) of using tobacco than the upper class people (24%), reads the news release.
Between 2009 and 2017, the average monthly expenditure for bidi had increased by 50 percent for each individual smoker.
Currently, a cigarette smoker spends Tk1,077.7 per month for cigarettes on average.
On the contrary, the average monthly expenditure for education and health of a household is only Tk835 and 700 respectively (Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2016).
The use of tobacco causes around 1,26,000 deaths in Bangladesh a year.
The financial loss (due to medical expenditure and loss of productivity) incurred per year due to tobacco use exceeds Tk30,560 crore.
According to the 2017 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) of the World Health Organization (WHO), currently 38.4 million people in Bangladesh face secondhand smoking in work, transport and other public places on a regular basis.
About 40.8 million (39%) Bangladeshis are exposed to passive smoking at home.
A recent study conducted among school children of Dhaka has found that 95 percent of school-going children have higher nicotine in their saliva samples, which is undoubtedly a result of passive smoking.