Call for laws to stop the piecemeal selling of bidis and cigarettes

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Anti-smoking platforms have called on the government to introduce stricter tobacco control laws and to ban the sale of bidis and lumpy cigarette sticks.

Progga (Knowledge for Progress) and the Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (Atma) hosted a webinar on Saturday on the need for tobacco control laws in Bangladesh to update current anti-tobacco laws.

The chairman of the Standing Parliamentary Committee of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change, Saber Hossain Chowdhury, who was on the program as the main guest, said we must demand a tobacco eradication law rather than demand a smoke-free law because Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced six years ago that Bangladesh would be a tobacco-free country by 2040, and we must take steps to implement it.

During the presentation of the opening speech on the current amendment to the law, Progga’s tobacco control chief Md Hassan Shahriar said that children, adolescents and young people can easily afford to buy cigarettes. bidis, cigarettes when the sticks are sold at retail. Additionally, they cannot see the health warning pictured on the package due to the bulk sale.

No less than 118 countries around the world, including Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, have banned the sale of single packets and sticks of cigarettes. The retail sale of cigarette sticks has been banned in the Indian state of Maharashtra since September 24.

The opening document says the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO), must enact and enforce laws banning the sale of bidis, cigarettes and tobacco products in sachets or in small packages.

The coordinator and additional secretary of the National Tobacco Control Unit, Hossain Ali Khandaker, said the initiative has been taken to amend the law by incorporating the proposed amendments to the law, but we need to consider the implementation of the law. law. Laws prohibit outdoor smoking, but for various reasons this is not enforced properly.

Prominent economist Dr Kazi Khaliquzzaman Ahmed, organizer of the National Anti-Tobacco Forum, chaired the webinar and said we need to educate people about the harmful effects of tobacco. If there is no commitment among those who work to make the law, then the work will not progress.

Speakers said tobacco causes death and is conducive to Covid-19 infection. According to the WHO, smoking increases the risk of contracting Covid-19. Currently, around 40 million tobacco users in the country are at serious risk of Covid-19 infection and death. It is therefore time to update the current tobacco control law.

Among others, the famous actor Abul Hayat; Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul, prominent journalist and editor-in-chief of TV Today; Abdul Qayyum, deputy editor-in-chief of the daily Prothom Alo; Shahnaz Munni, the editor of News 24; Popular sports model and organizer Mohammad Faisal Ahsan Ullah; The Senior Policy Advisor of the Tobacco Free Children Campaign in Bangladesh, Md Mostafizur Rahman, and WHO Country Specialist, Dr Syed Mahfuzul Haque, were in attendance.

Nadira Kiran, co-host of Atma, led the event.

Progga and Atma proposed to modify the following: ensure a 100% smoke-free environment by prohibiting smoking in all public places, workplaces and public transport, including the elimination of places reserved for smokers; prohibit the display of tobacco products at the point of sale; a complete ban on the activities of the corporate social responsibility program of tobacco companies; ban the retail sale of unpackaged bidi-cigarettes, zarda and gul, etc. ban the import and sale of all emerging tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, and increase the size of pictorial health warnings on packages to 90%.


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