Shastho Shurokkha Foundation along with the Members of parliament (MPs) and other stakeholders have emphasized that there is no alternative to amending the tobacco control law to attain the goal of turning Bangladesh into a tobacco-free country by 2040 as per the announcement of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
During a discussion titled 'Tobacco Control Activities for Achieving Tobacco-Free Bangladesh by 2040' with the journalists at the Dhaka Reporters' Unity (DRU) in the capital on Saturday speakers discussed.
Bangladesh Parliamentary Forum for Health and Wellbeing, a public health-related forum of the MPs, and the secretariat of the forum SSF organized the discussion where lawmakers said they are committed and want to work at all levels to achieve the national goal.
Former state minister for home affairs and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Home Affairs, Md Shamsul Haque Tuku was present as the chief guest on the occasion. National Press Club President Farida Yasmin and lawmaker Adiba Anjum Mita were present as special guests. The meeting was presided over by lawmaker Prof Dr Md Habibe Millat.
Shamsul Haque Tuku said that the prime minister is committed to protecting the public health of the people, which leads to the declaration of making Bangladesh tobacco-free by 2040.
He said, “There are tobacco control laws, but there are gaps in the law. People including women, children, and students are all being harmed due to smoking. But this could not be solved only through government and administration. The law should be amended as well as the media should step in.
“We are also very vocal about increasing taxes and prices on tobacco products. We will also increase tobacco price and tax in the coming national budget.”
Adiba Anjum stressed the importance of introducing more anti-tobacco activities in the country. Besides, amendment of tobacco control law along with taxation is the utmost priority now, she said.
At the discussion, Dr Nizam Uddin Ahmed, executive director of Shastho Shurokkha Foundation and public health specialist, presented various important aspects of amending the existing tobacco control law and mentioned that it is necessary to add some issues there.
The issues include a complete ban on the sale of tobacco products along with e-cigarettes, smoking in public places and transports, displaying of tobacco products in sales outlets, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities by the tobacco companies.
Highlighting the various successes of the Bangladesh Parliamentary Forum for Health and Wellbeing in tobacco control, Chairman of the forum Habibe Millat said MPs are carrying out various activities for the protection of public health through the forum.
'On behalf of the forum, we have sent a letter signed by 152 members of parliament along with the minister of health requesting to amend the existing Tobacco Control Act. We, along with 153 members of parliament, have requested the hon'ble prime minister to issue a DO letter to amend the Tobacco Act including e-cigarettes. We all want to take this activity forward and make Bangladesh tobacco free,” Prof. Millat added.