The politicians spoke during a webinar broadcast on Facebook Live, titled “Tobacco-free New Days” on World No Tobacco Day, which was organized by the activist group: Stop Tobacco Bangladesh.
Prof Habibe Millat, of Sirajganj constituency, said that tobacco harms all the organs from head to toe. Therefore, it is necessary to reform the existing law and strengthen enforcement.
Barrister Shamim Haider Patwari, of Gaibandha 1 constituency, highlighted the importance of larger graphic health warnings on cigarette packs. “In our country, it is vital to have 90% pictorial health warnings as well.”
Shirin Akhtar, MP of Feni 1, said that it is about time that the tax on tobacco products is increased. “Every year, we raise our voices but the desired progress is not achieved. We have to move forward with a specific roadmap.”
While Rana Mohammad Sohel, MP of Nilphamari 3, said that the government’s expenses of treating tobacco-related diseases is much higher than the revenue from the tobacco sector, so the government needs to be smarter about tobacco control.
Earlier this year, the Dhaka Ahsania Mission said that there are several impediments in the existing law that hinder tobacco control. For example, the current law allows people to smoke in public spaces such as on public transport and in certain restaurants’ areas. The Mission added, that displaying tobacco products at outlets and the sales of single cigarettes should be banned.
Bangladesh’s Tobacco Products (Control) Act passed 2005
Bangladesh was the first developing country to sign the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in 2003. Two years later, in 2005, the government had passed the Tobacco Products (Control) Act in 2005, which was revised and amended in 2013.
Sadly, following in the footsteps of neighbouring India, in 2019, a Bangladeshi health official had announced that in response to the growing health concerns surrounding e-cigarettes, a plan to prohibit the sale and use of vaping products and other electronic cigarettes, was underway. The ban is to be incorporated in the new tobacco control policy, currently being drawn up by the government, said the official at the time.
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