Govt should enlist tobacco as addictive drug, says Adhunik
Two anti-tobacco platforms -- Progga and Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) -- has claimed that tobacco products will become more affordable in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
The proposed budget has kept the prices unchanged for low-tier cigarettes which constitute around 72% of the cigarette market, they said on Thursday.
The per capita income of the country, however, saw a 9% increase since last fiscal year, they said.
The proposed budget, if implemented, will considerably reduce the real prices of cigarettes and encourage the poor and the youth demographic to get hooked on the deadly addiction to smoking.
The same goes for bidi and smokeless tobacco (jarda and gul) where the taxes and prices have also been kept unchanged. This will put the low-income people, particularly women, at greater health risks.
If the proposed budget is finally passed, tobacco companies will be the only beneficiaries while the government will lose the opportunities of revenue earning, they said.
Such a budget will only encourage tobacco business and ignore hundreds of thousands of deaths, impairment, massive socioeconomic and environmental damage this industry causes, they said.
The proposed budget has kept the prices of and taxes on low and medium categories of cigarettes unchanged.
The prices for 10 sticks of high- and premium-tier cigarettes have been increased by only Tk5 (5.2% hike) and Tk7 (5.5% hike), setting the prices at Tk102 and Tk135 respectively.
Adhunik: Govt should enlist tobacco as addictive drug
Adhunik, a pioneer organization in the anti-tobacco campaign, has said the government should enlist tobacco as a dangerous addictive drug in Bangladesh.
"Adhunik will strengthen its campaign in demanding tobacco control and gradually push for a complete ban on tobacco products," said its President Amanullah Khan.
Speaking at a recent webinar, he said the World Health Organization (WHO) enlisted tobacco as an addictive drug way back in 1987.
"We have continuously pressed forward our demand to the Narcotics Control Department of our country to do the same in Bangladesh, but to no avail," he said.
Adhunik (Amra Dhumpan Nibaron Kori) hosted the webinar titled "World No Tobacco Day: Pledge to quit tobacco today" supported by Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
At the event, Amanullah Khan also paid respect to the organization's former president Prof Dr Nurul Islam, recalling him as a "dedicated tobacco warrior."
"We may lose the battle, but we will win the war," said Khan citing Prof Nurul Islam on the war against tobacco.
He said tobacco business empires are increasing their horizon every day and their lobby is very strong.
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He said the government should take strict initiatives in controlling tobacco products to live up to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's pledge in creating a smoking-free Bangladesh by 2040.
Vice Chancellor of Chittagong Medical University Prof Dr Md Ismail Khan spoke at the webinar as the chief guest.
He said tobacco is one of the most addictive products and the government should immediately enact strict laws for controlling tobacco.
"Besides, passive smoking is also very harmful. No one has the right to actively harm others. So, authorities should have zero tolerance towards smoking," he added.
Prof Abu Taher, a member of the University Grants Commission (UGC), said the anti-tobacco laws in Bangladesh are not enforced properly. "The situation should change."
Several other notable personalities spoke at the webinar focusing on the harmful effects of smoking.