Dhaka, Tue, Apr 2019


Tobacco hazard costs Tk 30,570 crore in Bangladesh

Risk of tobacco-related cancer jumps 109 percent in smokers

24 February 2019,Sunday, 11:58

The impact of smoking on health is well known by now, but less attention has been given to the costs that smokers impose on the economy. Bangladesh faces a growing economic penalty due to tobacco related-illnesses and deaths, reports UNB.

A major new study led by the Bangladesh Cancer Society has pinned the cost to the country of some citizens’ nicotine habit at a whopping Tk 30,570 crore ($3.6 billion US) a year, that is 1.4 percent of GDP.
The dissemination program on the study “Economic Cost of Tobacco Use in Bangladesh: A health cost approach”, for which BCS partnered with the American Cancer Society, Cancer Research UK, and the Department of Economics at Dhaka University, was held at Dhaka Club on Saturday.

The study said that the risk of one of the major tobacco-related diseases in tobacco users is 57 percent more than for non-users, and 109 percent more for tobacco-related cancer, than in those who do not use tobacco. The study also said that the cost from environmental and health risks of tobacco cultivation, the threat to food security, threat of fire and damage, environmental pollution and other losses such as poor farmland use in tobacco cultivation, were not being measured. Children are most affected by tobacco. Some two million children in the country are affected by indirect or passive smoking.

The day’s program included an opening ceremony, technical session, and a group discussion on the results of the research. A study of seven diseases related to the economic and health risks is collected in ten thousand home-based houses. The Bangladesh Cancer Society led the research.

State Minister for Health, Dr. Md. Murad Hassan was present as chief guest while others included National Professor Brigadier General Abdul Malik, Health Secretary Mohammad Asadul Islam, former Chairman of the National Board of Revenue Nasiruddin Ahmed, cancer specialist Professor Dr. M A Haye, Head of Programs of Vital Strategic Shafiqul Islam, Directors of American Cancer Society Professor Dr. Nigar Nargis and Greg Hyfolle, Cancer Research-UK's Priscilla Tiga, Coordinator of National Tobacco Control Cell (Joint Secretary) Khalilur Rahman and others.

In the inaugural session, President of Bangladesh Cancer Society Prof. Mollah Obdullah Baki presided over the programme. The program was conducted by Director of Research Projects and Joint Secretary-General of the Bangladesh Cancer Society Golam Mohiuddin Faruque.

State Minister for Health, Dr. Murad Hassan, MP noted that Prime Minister announced the country will wean itself off tobacco by 2040. “To this end, the government has taken various steps to control tobacco use. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare does not expect the government to own shares in any tobacco company. And the government has decided to withdraw shares from British American Tobacco, or BAT, gradually.”

Dr. Nasiruddin Ahmed said tobacco or cigarette prices will keep increasing and the use of tobacco will gradually decrease if it is taken out of the consumers’ purchasing capacity. Although the tax regime has continued getting tougher for the businesses, one obstacle towards raising the tobacco tax is that some political figures and senior government officials work as lobbyists on behalf of tobacco companies and oppose increasing taxation of tobacco. He too called on the government to withdraw its shares from BAT.

“Tobacco companies are involved in tax evasion. The revenue department will have to increase their own capability of realizing revenues from tobacco companies,” Dr Nasir added.

Health Secretary Mohammad Asadul Islam said in light of the announcement of the Prime Minister, they are indeed working to free the country of tobacco by 2040. He lauded the research initiative, that allows for a better accounting for the disease in any cost-benefit analysis. “Such research and its results will help in our decision-making process.”


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