Violators of the new tobacco law could face imprisonment for a maximum of six months or a fine not exceeding Tk2 lakh, or both.
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 increasing concerns about vaping, a plan to ban the products was underway. The officials added that the ban was to be incorporated in the new tobacco control policy, being drawn up by the government.

Subsequently, a draft amendment to the Smoking and Using of Tobacco Products (Control) Act, banning vapes and oral nicotine pouches has just been released. The ban would ban the production, import, export, storage, sale and transportation of e-cigarettes and their components, and violators of the new tobacco law could face imprisonment for a maximum of six months or a fine not exceeding Tk2 lakh, or both.

Moreover, the amendment includes a provision that would ban any flavours or addictive chemicals in “tobacco products”, the sales of the products by mobile shops and hawkers, and also tobacco sales within 100 metres of the boundaries of educational institutions, hospitals, clinics, playgrounds and children’s parks.

Failing to differentiate between combustible tobacco and safer alternatives

Last year, four members of the local parliament said that putting taxes on tobacco and vaping products, was a priority. Prof Habibe Millat, of Sirajganj constituency, said that tobacco (ignoring the fact that vapes do not combust tobacco) harms all the organs from head to toe, hence why amending the existing law and strengthen enforcement is crucial, he added.

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.

Read Further: The Business Standard

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