Some 126,000 lives are lost in Bangladesh every year because of diseases sprouting due to tobacco use, said anti-tobacco organisation PROGGA on Wednesday.
It stressed the need for protecting the young generation of Bangladesh from the fang of tobacco in order to attain its development goals.
“Today (Wednesday), the International Youth Day is being observed across the world, which is very significant for Bangladesh as currently its 49 percent population is youth. The country’s future depends on their skills and capabilities. But this potential youth population may become a burden for the country instead of becoming assets due to tobacco addiction,” it said in a release.
The tobacco industry fills up their loss of consumers by targeting children, teenagers and the youths through different tactics, it said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that tobacco companies spend US$ 900 crore yearly to attract the teenagers and the youths and transform them into future loyal customers.
According to the latest information by Tobacco Atlas, the number of tobacco users between the ages of 10 to 14 years old in Bangladesh is 172,000.
Alarmingly, the ratio of tobacco users in Bangladesh is 1.86 percent more than other mid-level countries of the Human Development Index.
As per the US Surgeon General Report 2014, nearly 90 percent of the adult smokers began smoking by age 18. Smoking at such an early age reduces the efficiency of lungs and hampers the rate of growth of lungs over the years as well as increases the risk of lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, emotional or psychological distress.
Among young people, the short-term health consequences of tobacco use include respiratory and non-respiratory effects.
On the occasion of the International Youth Day, PROGGA Executive Director ABM Zubair, Executive Director said that the target of Bangladesh to attain the status of a developed country by 2041 largely depends on the youth population.
If the young generation is not sound in terms of health due to addiction to tobacco, they can’t contribute in achieving the target. “So, it is very important to save the young people from tobacco,” he said.
It is high time to protect the young folks of Bangladesh by implementing the tobacco control laws by banning all events sponsored/arranged by tobacco industry in educational institutions, and amend the law to ban point-of-sale product display to prevent promotion of tobacco products and eliminate “Designated Smoking Area” in public places and transports, he said.