A new study published in the British Medical Journal’s Tobacco Control journal has highlighted the importance of monitoring the tobacco industry’s interference in the formulation and implementation of graphic health warnings. The study titled “Tobacco industry interference to undermine the development and implementation of graphic health warnings in Bangladesh” examined the tobacco industry’s efforts to “delay and weaken” the implementation of graphic health warnings (GHWs) in Bangladesh. The study found that the Bangladesh Cigarette Manufacturers’ Association (BCMA) was the most active industry actor in interfering with the process, reads a media release sent by PROGGA. Also Read: Amend tobacco law in line with WHO guideline, speakers urge govt British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB) was most active and the only company that acted alone to thwart GHW implementation, according to the study. The study urges the government of Bangladesh to adopt WHO FCTC Article 5.3 Guidelines and to make their implementation a policy priority. The paper was co-authored by Professor Anna B Gilmore, Director of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath; Dr Britta K Matthes, Research Associate in the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath; and four tobacco control advocates from PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress), a Bangladesh-based anti-tobacco research and advocacy organization – ABM Zubair, Executive Director of PROGGA, Md Hasan Shahriar, Head of Programs, Md Shahedul Alam, Head of Advocacy, and Md Mehedi Hasan, Media Manager of Tobacco Control Program.
Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque on Wednesday said it is necessary to strengthen the tobacco control law to achieve the goal of a tobacco-free Bangladesh. He also said the initiative to fortify the tobacco control law to curb tobacco use is a timely one. The minister came up with the comments during a meeting with a delegation from research and advocacy organization PROGGA and ATMA (Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance) at the Secretariat, said a press release. Read: Fallow lands to be brought under cultivation: Agriculture Minister The meeting was organised to inform the minister about the progress made by the Health Ministry in amending the tobacco control law and the potential role that the Agriculture Ministry can play in the process. Dr Abdur Razzaque said his ministry has full support for the Health Ministry's proposals for tobacco control law amendment. The delegation of PROGGA and ATMA informed the minister that currently the prevalence of tobacco use stands at 35.3 percent (37.8 million) of the adult population (15 y/o and above). They said the tobacco-induced deaths and diseases cost the economy dearly since the financial toll is much higher than the revenue generated from tobacco sector. Read: No famine risk in Bangladesh right now: Agriculture Minister Realizing the extent of tobacco’s devastation, the Prime Minister voiced her commitment to build a tobacco-free country by 2040 and accordingly provided the directive to bring time-fitting changes to the tobacco control law, they observed. Following clear directive from the PM, the Health Ministry took the initiative to amend the law.
The Bangladesh Supermarket Owners' Association (BSOA) have demanded quick approval of the proposed amendment to the Tobacco Control Act. Recently the health ministry has prepared a draft for further revision of the Tobacco Control Act 2005. The BSOA leaders were speaking at a joint discussion with Dhaka Ahsania Mission Sunday in Dhaka, according to a media statement. BSOA Chief Advisor and Founder President Niaz Rahim said the government has set a target to make the country tobacco-free by 2040. Read: HC reconstitutes Destiny board of directors "We hope the amended law will be passed soon and the government's vision will be implemented." Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Bangladesh Lead Policy Advisor Md Mostafizur Rahman said the current Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) Act 2005 completely prohibits the advertising and promotion of tobacco products. However, the existing law does not specifically prohibit the display of tobacco products at the point of sales, he added. "Tobacco companies are mainly advertising and promoting tobacco products through the exhibition of their products at the sales centres." So, the health ministry recently formulated a draft for further revision of the Tobacco Control Act, Mostafizur said.
Bangladesh's goal of becoming a tobacco-free country by 2040 will be hindered if e-cigarettes are banned, experts said Thursday. They were speaking at the webinar "Save Vaping, Save Bangladesh" organised by the Bangladesh-based Voices of Vapers. The experts addressed the recent proposal to ban vape and other alternative and heat-not-burn tobacco products in a new amendment to the country's tobacco control legislation. Dr Delon Human, president of Health Diplomats and an expert on harm reduction, said there is no evidence for the statement that nicotine in vapes are more harmful than cigarettes, as claimed by the National Tobacco Control Cell. "There needs to be a credible harm reduction strategy as practised by many developed countries," he added. "The authorities must consider regulating a safer alternative such as vape and make it accessible to smokers wanting to quit." Read: BENDSTA for scrapping vape ban from draft Tobacco Control Amendment bill Schumann Zaman, president of Bangladesh Electronic Nicotine Delivery System Traders Association (BENDSTA), said not recognising vape traders and vape users as stakeholders will have major consequences as many of these vapers are using e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. John Dunne, director general of the UK Vaping Industry Association, said vapes should be regulated separately because vapes and cigarettes are different products. "In fact, vapes are far safer and a proven method of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Regulating vapes will help smokers who are trying to quit have access to vapes," he added. "Countries such as the UK, France, New Zealand and Canada have successfully lowered smoking rates by using vaping as NRT. Banning vapes will lower the number of smokers trying to quit."
World No Tobacco Day will be observed in the country on Tuesday as elsewhere in the globe. The theme of the World No Tobacco Day for 2022 as set by the World Health Organization (WHO) is “Tobacco: Threat to our environment.” This theme is particularly relevant for Bangladesh and other developing countries where 90 percent of all tobacco production is concentrated, said a press release from PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress), an anti-tobacco platform. The President and thePrime Minister have issued separate messages on the occasion. Also read: 18 anti-tobacco groups want duty hike on tobacco products President Abdul Hamid called upon the government as well as civil society members, professional organizations, non-governmental organizations and the media to make concerted efforts to save people, especially the younger generation, from the dangers of smoking and tobacco. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “At the South Asian Speakers Summit 2018, I announced that Bangladesh will be tobacco free by 2040. Our government is working relentlessly towards that goal as we need healthy and strong population to build a developed and prosperous Bangladesh." Tobacco causes over 84 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually and creates the world’s most littered item, cigarette butts. Bangladesh ranks 14th in the world on the basis of area used for tobacco cultivation, 12th for tobacco production in quantity, and holds a share of 1.3% of global tobacco production. According to Tobacco Atlas, tobacco cultivation accounts for 31 percent of deforestation in Bangladesh. The use of tobacco causes around 161,000 deaths in Bangladesh a year. It has been ranked as the fourth major contributing factors behind premature deaths in the country. Also read: Experts want THR in tobacco control plans PROGGA suggests amending existing tobacco control law, hiking cigarette and tobacco product prices imposing specific excise taxes, divesting government’s investment from British American Tobacco, promoting alternative farming and livelihood options, expediting the adoption of a code of conduct in line with FCTC Article 5.3 for all government officials as necessary measures to curb the prevalence of tobacco use.
Some 18 anti-tobacco organizations have backed the demands for increasing the supplementary duty on all types of tobacco products in the upcoming national budget for the FY2022-23.The demand was made at a solidarity rally held in front of the National Press Club on Sunday.Specific taxation, increase in government revenue and protection of public health have been the highlights of the campaign.The rally, with Helal Uddin Ahmed of Prottasha in the chair, was addressed, among others, by Nasir Uddin of Vital Strategy, Farhana Zaman Lizar of Tobacco Control Research Cell (TCRC), Khalil Ullah of NATAB, Shariful Islam of Dhaka Ahsania Mission and Dr. Farhana Rahman, Seema Das Shimu, Rubina Islam and, and Barrister Jewel Sarkar. Also read: Experts want THR in tobacco control plansThe speakers said that raising the price of tobacco products through increased taxes is an internationally pursued method to discourage tobacco use.But due to lack of effective taxation, tobacco products are becoming very cheap and readily available in Bangladesh.They observed that the existing tobacco tax system has not been able to play a fully supportive role in achieving the 'Tobacco Free Bangladesh' promised by the prime minister.They also pointed out that every year more than 1 lakh 61 thousand people die and 3 lakh 62 thousand people become disabled due to tobacco use in Bangladesh.In the 2017-18 financial year the economic loss (loss of medical expenses and productivity) of tobacco use was Tk 30,560 crore and the revenue loss was Tk 22,810 crore. The net loss is about Tk 8,000 crore. Also read: Stop interference of tobacco companies in tax process: speakers urge govtThe leaders of the anti-tobacco groups handed over a memorandum to the chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) containing their demands.The organizations participating in the solidarity rally are: Bangladesh Center for Communication Program (BCCP), Aid Foundation, Bureau of Economic Research (Dhaka University), Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Development Activists of Society (DAS), Development Organisatio of Rural Poor, Gram Bangla Development Committee, Manas, National Anti-Tuberculosis Association of Bangladesh (NATAB), National Heart Foundation, Knowledge for Progress (Wisdom), Health Protection Foundation, Tobacco Control Research Cell (TCRC), Anti-Tobacco Women's Alliance, Development Coordination, Voice of Work for Better Bangladesh (VWBB Trust) and Prattasha Anti-Drug Organization.
Experts at an event Sunday urged policymakers to incorporate a tobacco harm reduction (THR) strategy into their tobacco control plans and establish safer alternatives such as vaping products. To commemorate World Vape Day 2022, Voice of Vapers Bangladesh organised the panel discussion "The Need for a Tobacco Harm Reduction Strategy: Achieving the Government's Health Agenda and Revenue Ambitions" in Dhaka. Dr Delon Human, president of Health Diplomats and an expert on harm reduction, said: "To achieve a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040, there needs to be a credible harm reduction strategy as practised by many developed countries. The authorities must consider regulating safer alternatives such as vaping and make them accessible to smokers wanting to quit." Dr Altamash Mahmood, core faculty member (public health nutrition) at the Bangladesh Open University, said: "Cigarettes are harmful, but nicotine is not. This is because smoking involves combustion that creates tar and other toxicants. Vaping only heats the liquid to create vapour to deliver nicotine. It does not induce second-hand smoking." Schumann Zaman, president of Bangladesh Electronic Nicotine Systems Traders Association, talked about how vaping can help the government achieve its health agenda along with its revenue ambitions. "We need to capitalise on this by regulating the vaping industry; ensuring that the right products brought through the right channels are made accessible. This can only be achieved if a THR strategy is adopted, curated for adult smokers looking to quit, along with the enactment of sensible regulations." Also read: Bangladesh slightly improves in global tobacco tax index
A human chain was formed on a virtual platform on Sunday, demanding that the government increase taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products to protect the young generation from harms. Participants from different parts of the country joined the event by uploading their pictures with festoons and placards on Facebook to press home the demand, using #RaiseTaxSaveLivesBD hashtags. Also read: Govt urged to reject offer for Covid-19 vaccine from any tobacco company The event was organised by an anti-tobacco advocacy organisation, PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress), with support from Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids (CTFK), said a release. In the function, the enhancement of the prices of tobacco products was demanded through imposing specific supplementary duties in the upcoming FY 2022-23 National Budget. The anti-tobacco organisations demand that the retail price for the low-tier cigarettes should be set at BDT 50 for 10 sticks by imposing BDT 32.50 as specific supplementary duty (SD) in the next national budget. The retail price of the medium tier cigarettes should be set at BDT 75 for 10 sticks with BDT 48.75 supplementary duty and that of the high-tier cigarette at BDT 120 with BDT 78.00 SD and the premium tier at BDT 150 with BDT 97.50 SD. If the tobacco prices are raised at the suggested rates, it would encourage 1.3 million adults to refrain from smoking, to prevent the premature deaths of 4.45 lakh adults and 4.48 lakh youths in the long run, and help the government to earn additional revenue of BDT 9,200 crore. Besides, the anti-tobacco organisations demand the retail price of non-filtered bidis should be increased at BDT 25 for 25 sticks with BDT 11.25 as specific supplementary duty. Also read: Tobacco industry’s interference continues: Study In case of smokeless tobacco products, the retail prices for 10 grams of jarda should be raised to BDT 45 with BDT 27 as 60 percent supplementary duty. For 10 grams of gul, the retail price should be enhanced to BDT 25 with BDT 15 as specific supplementary duty. “Increasing tobacco products’ prices by imposing specific supplementary duties would raise government revenues and reduce tobacco-related deaths and losses,” said PROGGA Executive Director ABM Zubair.
Bidi workers and tobacco farmers of Kushtia have urged the government to reduce taxes on bidi and fix fair prices.Bidi workers and tobacco farmers of Kushtia held a human chain in front of the deputy commissioner's office in Kushtia on Wednesday to press home a 5-point charter of demands.Tobacco is used in the bidi industry but due to conspiracies hatched by foreign multinational tobacco companies the government has imposed high taxes on bidi, forcing the factories to close down, workers said, adding because bidi factories are closing down, tobacco farmers are not being able to sell their produce. READ: Drowning in debt, govt school principal ends life in Kushtia Due to the increase in tariffs on bidis, unscrupulous traders are marketing bidis with fake band-rolls to evade tax. As a result, the government is being deprived of a huge amount of revenue.The five demands are: bidi workers should have to work for six days a week, tax levied on bidi should be reduced, the 10 percent advance income tax imposed on the bidi industry should be withdrawn, fair price should be fixed for tobacco, and factories of counterfeit bidi should be busted.The speakers further said that tobacco farmers are becoming helpless due to the aggression of foreign multinational companies. Held hostage by the foreign companies, farmers are being deprived of a fair price for tobacco. As a result, thousands of tobacco farmers and traders are suffering financially and they are in dire straits with their families.The speakers called upon the government to address the problems of tobacco growers and bidi workers. READ: Missing youth found dead in Kushtia Golam Mostafa, labour affairs secretary of the Kushtia district of the Awami League, was the chief guest at the protest programme, chaired by Md Nazim Uddin, general secretary of Kushtia Zilla Bidi Sangram Parishad and vice-president of Bangladesh Bidi Workers Federation. Workers' leader Tarun Sheikh moderated the event.
About 7.69 million people died worldwide in 2019 from different smoking-related diseases, an estimate by an international team of researchers shows. China accounted for the largest number of deaths – 2.42 million, nearly 30% of the world total – followed by India at 1.01 million, the US at 530,000, Russia at 290,000 and Indonesia at 250,000, according to the estimate published in the British medical journal The Lancet. The study, which analysed data from over 3,000 health surveys covered more than 200 countries and regions. Also read: Speakers for amending Smoking and Tobacco Usage (Control) Act The team found the number of smokers in the world topped 1.1 billion in 2019, with 7 trillion cigarettes consumed annually. Although smoking rates are on a downward trend in developed countries, the number of smokers is on the rise in developing countries, including those in Africa, where the population is growing rapidly. The most common diseases that directly caused deaths among smokers were ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and strokes. Smoking is known to increase the risk of developing these diseases. However, the estimate does not include the health damage caused by secondhand smoke. Also read: Quit Smoking: How to prevent Nicotine addiction The team also found that 87% of the deaths were in people who continued smoking, and only 6% were people who had quit smoking more than 15 years before their deaths. As the tobacco industry is developing marketing strategies targeting youths to promote items such as flavoured cigarettes and e-cigarettes, banning the sale of such products will help reduce the number of young smokers, the team said and called for measures such as higher tobacco taxes and advertising restrictions.