The proposed budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 has kept the prices of low-tier cigarettes unchanged while it has revised the price slabs of high and premium- tier cigarettes upward.
However, tax and price for bidi and smokeless tobacco have also remained unchanged.
Price slab of high-tier cigarettes, per 10 sticks, has been proposed to increase at Tk 102 and above while for the premium-tier ones it has been proposed at Tk135 and above.
In an instant reaction, anti-tobacco activists and advocacy organisation PROGGA said if the measures are implemented, it will considerably reduce the real prices of cigarettes and encourage the poor and the youth demographic to get hooked on the deadly addiction of smoking.
They said the lower tier cigarettes constitute around 72 per cent of the cigarette market.
"Such a budget, which is in grave conflict with the Honorable Prime Minister's vision of a tobacco-free Bangladesh, will only encourage tobacco business and ignore hundreds of thousands of deaths, impairment, massive socioeconomic and environmental damage this industry causes," PROGGA said in an statement.
It said prices of 10 sticks of high and premium tier cigarettes have been increased by only Tk 5.0 (5.2 per cent hike) and Tk 7.0 (5.5 per cent hike).
The existing 65 per cent supplementary duty has been kept unchanged.
This means the prices of per stick high and premium tier cigarettes will go up by only 50 paisa and 70 paisa respectively, which is a very negligible increase compared to the rise in per capita income.
ABM Zubair, executive director of research and advocacy organisation PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) said, "The proposed budget does not reflect any proposals or suggestions from anti-tobacco organisations. The only thing it safeguards is tobacco companies' interests. Once implemented, it will make tobacco products more affordable and increase tobacco-related deaths and other losses. So, we urge the government to incorporate our price and tax proposals in the final budget."
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