Letter To the Editor
Take steps to reduce tobacco consumption
Everyone is well aware of the detrimental health effects of smoking. According to a study conducted this year, 1.4 per cent of Bangladesh's GDP gets wasted due to tobacco consumption, while it also contributes to 13.5 percent of fatalities. Growing accustomed to smoking is also usually the first step towards acquiring the habit of consuming drugs. The government has tried to discourage smokers by imposing high tax on tobacco and is now aiming to make the country tobacco-free by 2040.
Taxation on tobacco could potentially reduce the demand for tobacco products and increase the production cost which could eventually limit the supply as well. But it has been found that cigarettes and raw tobacco product sales have, in fact, increased. The tobacco market in Bangladesh is the eighth largest globally and considering its market potential, Japan Tobacco acquired Akij Group Tobacco last year which could prove to be in conflict with the government's 2040 goal.
Thus, taxing tobacco should not be the only way to control smoking. Other awareness campaigns should be implemented to curb tobacco consumption. The government should consider launching programmes through the mass media as well as targeted marketing campaigns to try and discourage people from smoking.
Md Zillur Rahaman