Tobacco control law amendment needed urgently: Speakers

Publish: 6:20 PM, January 25, 2021 | Update: 6:20:PM, January 25, 2021

Although significant progress has been made in tobacco control in Bangladesh, in some cases progress has not been as expected. According to the World Health Organization’s report on Global Tobacco Epidemic 2019, Bangladesh has not yet achieved the best standards for banning advertising for a smoke-free environment and tobacco products. This requires an amendment to the current tobacco control law.

This was stated by the speakers at view exchange meeting with journalists on Thursday at the head office of Dhaka Ahsania Mission Health Sector in the capital.

The meeting was chaired by Md. Mokhlesur Rahman, Assistant Director and Project Coordinator (Tobacco Control Project), Health Sector, Dhaka Ahsania Mission while Abdus Salam Mia, Grants Manager, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids Bangladesh, Ruhul Amin Rushad, Senior News Editor, Banglavision and Sarkar Shams Bin Sharif, Communications Officer, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids Bangladesh were among others also present at the occasion.

Sharmin Rahman, Senior Program Officer, Health Sector, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, gave a presentation on the existing Tobacco Control Act to protect public health and life.

Abdus Salam Mia, Grants Manager, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids Bangladesh, said at the meeting that tobacco was involved in six of the eight major causes of preventable death worldwide. In Bangladesh, more than 1 lakh 61 thousand people die every year from diseases caused by tobacco use alone. But we are not as concerned about it as we should be. Only media personnel can create awareness among the people. He called on the media to play a role in this.

Md. Mokhlesur Rahman, Assistant Director, Health Sector, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, said that the Government of Bangladesh enacted the Smoking and Tobacco Use (Control) Act, 2005 in the light of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

In 2013, several important amendments were made to the Tobacco Control Act and in 2015, the Smoking and Tobacco Use (Control) Rules were formulated. However, the existing tobacco control law is largely consistent with the FCTC, but there are weaknesses in some areas. The law does not say anything about banning emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, a new threat to public health, especially teenagers and young adults.

Ruhul Amin Rushad, senior news editor of Banglavision, hoped that the media will play a stronger role in amending the anti-tobacco law, just as it did in 2013.

It is to be noted that the weak points in the existing law are the existing law does not prohibit smoking in public transport and restaurants in certain cases, does not prohibit the display of tobacco products in sales outlets, does not prohibit the sale of single sticks or retail sticks of bidi-cigarettes, does not prohibit the sale of emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, health-warning has failed to play an effective role as the size / volume of packaging of all tobacco products has not been determined and the tobacco company’s ‘Social Responsibility Program’ or CSR activities have not been banned.In most countries of the world, there is no opportunity to buy a single stick cigarette. There is no obligation in our country.
Legal obligations are needed in this regard.