Tobacco tax increased in the Bangladesh National Budget 2008-09

WHO Bangladesh is supporting  a month-long campaign activity to observe the World No -Tobacco Day 2008.  The Bangladesh Country Office of WHO, in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,  has advocated to the highest level of the Government for increasing the tax on tobacco in the next national Budget. The WHO Professionals  on non-communicable diseases (NCD) along with National Professor Professor Nurul Islam met with  the Hon'ble President, Peoples Republic of Bangladesh,  to place the issue of harmful effects of tobacco consumption and passive smoking on health. The Ministry of Finance and the Chairman of the National Board of Revenue were also sensitized, and requested to consider raising taxes on all forms of tobacco, given the adverse impacts of smoking on  public health.

It is, thus, a great leap forward that the Bangladesh Finance Adviser to the Caretaker Government  Mr.  A. B. Mirza Md. Azizul Islam in his budget speech on 9 June 2008 has announced new taxes on Tobacco.

 Following are quoted exactly from the budget speech of the Honorable Finance Adviser:

- In the interest of public health, I propose to impose supplementary duty of 60 percent on the raw materials for manufacturing of cigarettes and 20 percent on the papers used in producing packaging materials of cigarettes.

- To expand the VAT base, I propose to withdraw the exemption benefit existing for “individuals or organizations involved in repairing or servicing of goods against considerations that are subject to VAT”. Moreover, I propose to bring the aforementioned services and, being harmful to public health, manufacturing of scented tobacco (Jarda) and burnt tobacco (Gul) preparations under the purview of VAT irrespective of their turnover.

- Based on the recommendations put forward by Ministry of Health, various anti-tobacco movement organizations and     individuals and in the interest of public health, I propose to raise the price structure of cigarettes, tariff value of handmade  cigarettes (bidi) and applicable supplementary duty.

It's a big step forward to deter new smokers too. It will go a long way to strengthen the tobacco control activities  in the country. It demonstrates the highest level  of commitment of the Government of Bangladesh to this important public health issue.  WHO acknowledges the contribution of all partners specially the NGO networks and the media in Bangladesh who raised their voice on this particular issue.


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