Bangladesh: Commitment Questioned

Anti-tobacco campaigners in Bangladesh said yesterday that the Government¡¯s proposed budget for 2018-19 lacked initiatives to realize the prime minister¡¯s commitment to a tobacco-free country by 2040, according to a story in The Daily Star.

In a joint statement, the anti-tobacco organization, Progga, and the Anti Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) said the finance minister in his budget speech had discussed plans to ensure a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2041. ¡®Ironically, the budget he has proposed bears no sign of that intention,¡¯ the statement said.

The minister had talked about bringing down the total number of price slabs but had kept the existing four-price-slab system intact in the proposed budget.

The government had left the prices of packs of 10 ¡®top-shelf¡¯ cigarettes untouched at Tk101 for three consecutive years, including in the proposed budget for 2018-19.

This reflected a blatant disregard for public health on the policymakers¡¯ part because cigarettes were getting cheaper each year, given the increase in per capita national income during the past three years.

In the proposed budget, the price of a pack of 10 high-tier cigarettes would increase from Tk70 to Tk75; the price of a pack of 10 medium-tier cigarettes would increase from Tk45 to Tk48; and the price of a pack of 10 low-tier cigarettes would increase from Tk27 to Tk32. The price of 25 non-filtered bidis would remain unchanged at Tk12.5.  Enditem

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