Existing law needs amendment – Bhorer Kagoj

In our country, the death rate due to non-communicable diseases like heart attack, stroke, diabetes is increasing day by day. At present, 6 percent of the total deaths are due to non-communicable diseases. Most of these diseases and deaths are caused by tobacco use. Tobacco use can cause cancer of the respiratory tract, lungs, kidneys, bladder, mouth, nostrils, and throat. Because Bangladesh is seventh in the world in terms of death rate from various respiratory diseases. In Bangladesh, more than 35% of adults over the age of 15 use tobacco and tobacco products. About 1 lakh 25 thousand people die every year due to various diseases caused by tobacco use. The government’s revenue from tobacco and tobacco products is Tk 26,000 crore. The annual financial loss due to death and illness due to tobacco use is 30,570 crore rupees. So tobacco is one of the main enemies of public health, economy and environment. Tobacco is associated with six of the eight leading causes of preventable death worldwide. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) was signed in 2003 at the initiative of the World Health Organization to prevent this omnipresent harm of tobacco. The Bangladesh government signed it. This FCTC is a unique document in protecting public health. The Government of Bangladesh enacted the Smoking and Tobacco Use (Control) Act, 2005 in the light of FCTC with utmost importance on public health. In 2013, several important amendments were made to the Tobacco Control Act and in 2015, the Smoking and Tobacco Use (Control) Rules were enacted.

While the existing tobacco control law is largely consistent with the FCTC, there are weaknesses in some areas. In order to properly enforce the law and control the use of tobacco products, there is a need to amend the law in a timely manner with the addition of some new issues.

Article 5 (3) states that tobacco companies may participate in social activities financially or in any other way as part of the Social Responsibility Program (CSR); However, the name of the organization, sign, trademark, symbol can not be used. Tobacco companies are using CSR as a weapon to encourage tobacco growers by providing clean water, solar power, etc. in the name of incentives. The law prohibits tobacco companies’ corporate social responsibility or CSR activities. This will discourage tobacco growers and reduce the amount of tobacco cultivation. Pursuant to Section 10 (1) of the Tobacco Control Act, 50 per cent health warnings on both sides of packets, wrappers, cartons or containers or on the surface of the main exhibition floor shall be required to determine the size, quantity and pictorial health warning The size should be increased from 50 to 90 percent. Large-scale illustrated health warnings force users to think about health risks and encourage them to quit smoking. The law does not explicitly prohibit product displays or product exhibitions at outlets. Exploiting these limitations, tobacco companies have been offering free showcases with free cigarette packet displays to grocery stores, stationery and restaurants to promote their products. In this case, the display of the product in the sales center should be stopped.

The current law does not mention anything about the retail sale of bidi-cigarettes, the retail sale of bidi-cigarettes should be banned. Bidi-cigarettes will not be readily available if retail sale of sticks is banned. As a result, the tendency to smoke among adolescents and low-income people will decrease.

These products are being imported and sold as e-cigarettes are not banned by law. Young people are getting addicted to e-cigarettes. Therefore, the import and sale of these addictive and harmful products should be banned. The law should include e-cigarettes in the definition of tobacco.

The law should include licensing measures for the sale of tobacco products and prohibit the sale of tobacco products within 100 meters of educational institutions and hospitals.

In her closing remarks at the South Asian Speakers’ Conference held in Dhaka on January 30-31, 2016, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her determination to eradicate tobacco use from Bangladesh by 2040. He also announced to amend the Tobacco Control Act in line with the FCTC. If the law is amended in line with the FCTC to address the weaknesses of the existing law and implement the Prime Minister’s Declaration, it will be possible to implement it effectively, which will help protect public health and reduce economic losses as well as build a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040.

Md. Nasir Uddin Anik

Journalist and writer.

[email protected]

Source: Bhorer Kagoj by www.bhorerkagoj.com.

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