Amend existing law to build tobacco-free Bangladesh
November 19, 2020, 08:22 PM
by UNB NEWS
Publish- November 19, 2020, 08:22 PM
Participants at a workshop on Thursday urged the government to amend the existing tobacco control law immediately to build a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040.
They made the call in the programme organised by PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress), together with Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA), and supported by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), at Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) Bhaban in the city.
The speakers expressed hopes that immediate amendment of tobacco control law would contribute in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases to one-third by 2030.
The World Health Organization says tobacco kills up to half of its users. And it kills more than 8 million people each year – over 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
Over 80 percent of the world's 1.3 billion tobacco users live in low- and middle-income countries, according to the WHO.
Bangladesh Country Lead of Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) Muhammad Ruhul Quddus said the existing law falls short in reducing tobacco use due to lack of strong prohibitions mentioned in the FCTC that include provision of designated smoking zone (DSA) in public places and transports, display of tobacco products at points-of-sale, corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
“Different tobacco companies are taking advantages following the loopholes of the law. So, the existing tobacco law should be amended immediately,” the former additional secretary of the health ministry also said.
He said that a strong tobacco control law and its effective implementations are highly required in this regard following the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) initiated by the WHO.
“Strong measures need to be taken immediately for reducing tobacco use in order to achieve the Prime Minister's declaration of a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040. In order to achieve tobacco-free Bangladesh, there’s no alternative to formulating and implementing comprehensive tobacco control law following the FCTC guidelines,” he added.
Team Leader of Tobacco Control Project from PROGGA Hasan Shahriar presented keynote while 23 journalists from print, electronic and online media houses participated in the workshop.
He placed six proposals on the amendment of tobacco control law including – ensuring 100 percent smoke-free environment by prohibiting smoking in all forms in public places, workplaces, and public transport; abolishing 'Designated Smoking Area (DSA)'; banning the display of tobacco products at points of sale, tobacco company ‘corporate social responsibility’ activities, the sale of single sticks and unpackaged smokeless tobacco, the sale and import of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products; and a provision for stricter rules on packaging including increasing the size of health warnings.
Grants Manager MA Salam and Programme Officer Ataur Rahman of CTFK Bangladesh Team, Joint Editor of Bangladesh Pratidin Abu Taher; Convener of ATMA Liton Haider; Co-conveners Nadira Kiron and Mizan Chowdhury; and Executive Director of PROGGA ABM Zubair, among others, took part in the workshop.