Emphasizes the importance of amending Tobacco Control Law to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and build a tobacco-free Bangladesh; delegates of the parliamentary forum, ‘Bangladesh Parliamentary Forum for Health and Wellbeing’ has met with Chief Coordinator (SDG) at the Prime Minister's office Juena Aziz. In the meeting, taxation on tobacco products and initiatives of MPs for ensuring tobacco free Bangladesh came up. The meeting was held today 23rd march at prime minister office.
On behalf of the parliamentary forum, the chairman of the forum and the founding chairman of Shastho Shurokkha Foundation, Prof. Dr. Md. Habibe Millat MP informed Juena Aziz about the harmful aspects of tobacco. Referring to the declaration of Tobacco Free Bangladesh announced by the Hon'ble Prime Minister by 2040, he informed about the various initiatives taken by the MPs in this regard including the recommendation to amend the existing Tobacco Control Law.
He said that, ‘Tobacco indirectly costs thousands of crores money. As well as a large part of the non-communicable diseases are being caused by tobacco; and its economic value is putting pressure on our national economy. Cigarettes and tobacco products are associated with drugs. It also indirectly encourages the use of drugs. So, raising awareness and amending existing tobacco control laws is the right solution.’
Juena Aziz praised the initiative of the MPs in tobacco control activities in Bangladesh. She said that, ‘Awareness needs to be created for tobacco control. Everyone should be aware about the harmful effects of tobacco and tobacco products. In this case, it’s necessary to amend the law if possible. I think if the Hon'ble Members of Parliament can take initiative in this regard, positive results will come to law amendment.’
National NGO, Shastho Shurokkha Foundation acting as the secretariat of the forum. According to this, the executive director of SSF, Dr. Nizam Uddin Ahmed drew everyone's attention to the issues that need to be included in the amended law. He said, people who are involved in tobacco related professions, those who work in cigarette or bidi shops should be more aware about health protection. Second hand smoking needs to be stopped, especially in hotels-restaurants or places where there are smoking zones.
There are six proposals which need to be incorporate in the law amendment. Those are, Remove the exemptions in the smoking ban for restaurants and public transport; 2. Ban the display of tobacco products at point of sale; 3. Ban tobacco company ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ activities; 4. Ban the sale of single sticks and unpackaged smokeless tobacco; 5. Ban the sale and import of E-Cigarettes and heated tobacco products; 6. Allow for stricter rules on packaging including increases to the size of health warnings.
Noted that, 67% of total deaths in Bangladesh are caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs). It’s because of tobacco. According to Tobacco Atlas, every year in Bangladesh almost 1 lakh and 61 thousand people die from tobacco related disease. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) also focus on tobacco control to control NCDs. Bangladesh signed the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2003. It’s already been included in the Seventh Five-Year Plan to meet the SDGs. As a result, tobacco control activities have been integrated with mainstream development activities. In that continuity, in order to achieve SDG, it is necessary to take initiative to amend the existing tobacco control laws in Bangladesh.
Including all these speakers, joint secretary (SDGs) of Prime Minister Office, Mr Mohd. Monirul Islam and director of SSF Mr. Md. Rafiqul Islam was present there.