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. 

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