BSS-39 BD improves int. ciggy tax scorecard

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CIGARETTE-TAX-SCORE

BD improves int. ciggy tax scorecard

DHAKA, Dec 19, 2020 (BSS) – Bangladesh has improved its rankings in an international cigarette tax index, attaining a position slightly higher than the global average.

Tobacconomics cigarette tax scorecard study assessed the performance of cigarette tax policies in over 170 countries including Bangladesh.

Bangladesh attained score of 2.38 out of 5 possible points, which is quite behind the top performing counties with 4.63 score but slightly higher than the global average 2.07, according to the first edition of the International Cigarette Tax Scorecard by Tobacconomics.

The score of the top performing countries – like Australia and New Zealand – reflects their high and uniform specific cigarette excise taxes with regular increases that have significantly reduced the affordability of cigarettes.

The Tobacconomics Scorecard assesses countries’ cigarette tax policies based on international best practices using data from the World Health Organization from 2014-2018.

Nearly half the countries scored less than two out of the five-point maximum.

There has been little improvement between 2014 and 2018: the global average score rose only slightly from 1.85 in 2014 to 2.07 in 2018.

Tobacconomics Director and leading author of the scorecard Frank J Chaloupka said, “The scorecard shows considerable untapped potential for cigarette tax increases to raise revenue for a COVID-19 recovery and importantly, prevent premature deaths and promote a healthy and productive workforce”.

Bangladesh, however, had significantly improved its score on cigarette taxation policy from 0.87 in 2014 to 2.38 in 2018 but improvements are needed in the tax structure and prices of cigarettes.

The Cigarette Tax Scorecard has been created by the University of Illinois Chicago’s (UIC) Institute for Health Research and Policy.

Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, eminent economist and the convener of National Anti-Tobacco Platform, said, “The complex tiered cigarette tax structure in Bangladesh has significantly contributed to a reduced score for Bangladesh in this scorecard.”

Bangladesh must reduce the number of tiers for the purpose of cigarette taxation, introduce specific excise taxes and significantly increase its existing excise taxes on all tobacco products to save lives and raise much needed revenue, he added.

Dr Mahfuz Kabir Research Director of Bangladesh Institute of Strategic Studies said, “According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lungs hooked on tobacco are at greater risk of COVID-19. In Bangladesh, 3.78 crore adults use tobacco and 4.10 crore fall victim to second-hand smoke in their own homes.

He went on saying, this huge chunk of population, victims of direct or indirect tobacco use, are currently at grave risk of severe coronavirus infection. Low prices of tobacco products are the main reason behind this.

Increased taxes on tobacco products will reduce their consumption and generate much needed revenue to bear coronavirus related medical expenses and implementation of government stimulus packages, Mahfuz added.

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