Scores of prominent doctors have urged the government to hike tobacco tax in the budget to protect public health.
In a joint statement on Friday, initiated by Dhaka Ahsania Mission, 121 doctors said tobacco was involved in six of the eight leading causes of preventable death worldwide.
The statement noted that cigarettes are very cheap and readily available in the market due to the multi-layered tax structure of cigarettes in Bangladesh depending on the features and brands.
As a result, consumers are able to choose cheaper cigarettes instead of quitting, and the use of cigarettes has been relatively similar in recent years. The availability of tobacco products must be reduced through tax increases, said the doctors.
According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), tobacco users have a 57 percent higher risk of developing tobacco-related diseases such as heart disease, stroke, COPD or lung cancer, and a 109 percent higher risk of other tobacco-related cancers.
According to the statement, more than 1,61,000 people die of tobacco-related diseases every year in Bangladesh.