71pc public hospitals violate tobacco law: Report

The evidence of smoking such as cigarette butts and smell of smoke were found at 71 percent of public hospitals in Dhaka which goes against the Smoking and Tobacco Usage (Control) Act, according to a survey carried out by National Heart Foundation. The survey was conducted in 51 hospitals in Dhaka among which 45 percent had the evidence of using smokeless tobacco while tobacco products were sold within 100 metres of the 80 percent government hospitals.

The findings were shared at a seminar arranged by National Heart Foundation at the Jatiya Press Club on Monday. Dr Khairul Abrar, Programme Officer of the Anti-Tobacco Programme of the National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh, presented the keynote paper at the seminar highlighting the key findings of the survey.

“Under the act, hospitals in the country are supposed to be completely tobacco-free but the reality is something quite opposite,” he said.
“It’s important to have a tobacco cessation clinic to assist patients and visitors to the hospital to quit tobacco. But only 2 percent of hospitals in the capital have this facility,” he said.

Lawmaker Prof Dr Habibe Millat, in his speech as the chief guest, urged the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to take necessary steps to enforce the tobacco law properly at the hospitals. “All hospitals in the country must have anti-tobacco signs as per the tobacco control act...we must make sure that nobody becomes the victim of passive smoking,” he said.

He also urged the authorities concerned to take steps to restrict the sale of tobacco within 100 metres of hospitals. “We’ve to work collaboratively to implement the law properly,” he said while promising to work with 100 other MPs to reform the tobacco tax structure and raise taxes on tobacco products.

Chaired by National Professor Brigadier (retd) Abdul Malik, the seminar was attended, among others, by Dr Rayhan-e-Jannat, acting Line Director of the Health Department and Manager of Non-communicable Disease Control Program, Shamima Ferdous, Deputy Secretary (World Health) Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Mozaffar Hossain, President of Bangladesh National Anti-Tuberculosis Association, Prof Dr Mollah Obaydullah, President of Bangladesh Cancer Society and members of different anti-tobacco organisations.