Majority of drivers and helpers of public buses across the country, especially in Dhaka city, are smokers and most of them don’t follow the tobacco control law.
Talking to Bangladesh Post, Muhammed Rubayet, Media Manager of Dhaka Ahsania Mission Health Sector (Tobacco Control Project), said that the tobacco control law is mostly violated in public buses in the capital city. He told the daily that 91.3% of drivers and helpers smoke in public buses during driving.
Muhammed Rubayet said these following a cross-sectional survey over the issue. The Dhaka Ahsania Mission Health Sector conducted the survey on 22 routes in Dhaka city.
A total of 417 non-air-conditioned public buses (city service buses) were observed during cross-sectional survey. Each bus was watched in the capital once in the month of October 2019.
It was observed that 100% buses do not comply with Tobacco Control Act. Moreover, 91.3% of drivers and helpers were seen to directly smoke in the buses during driving of the vehicles. Almost 100% of buses were found not to display any ‘No Smoking Signage’ in the buses. Almost nine out of 10 public buses in were found with the smoking instance. However, the survey result has a wider gap with the law.
According to Section-4 of Bangladesh Tobacco Control Law, it is prohibited to smoke in public places and public transport. There are some provisions kept for punishments if the law is violated. If anyone violates this law by smoking in public then s/he can be fined Tk 300 for the first time and the amount would be doubled if s/he does it again for the second consecutive time.
Muhammed Rubayet said that the drivers and helpers use a trick by dropping the small cigarette/bidis whenever they noticed traffic police approaching to them. As a matter of the fact that the drivers and helpers are getting away by violating the law but without getting any punishment by using tricks.
Against this backdrop, the journey in public transport in the capital city with having a hot, humid temperature becomes a nightmare rather than a comfortable and peaceful journey.
The bus owners should use the cautionary signage where it would have to be written in English and Bangla that ‘Smoking causes death’, Muhammed Rubayet.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) with the support of Dhaka Ahsania Mission Health Sector and Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids arranged a meeting on September 7 where the DAM’s baseline bus survey was disseminated in presence of the BRTA and Bus Owners Association members.
BRTA Chairman Noor Mohammad Mazumder said, “Permanent no smoking signage in the buses will be used otherwise no fitness certificate of the vehicles should be issued by BRTA.”
He believed that 90% of the professional drivers can be made aware through different kinds of awareness programmes and the rest 10% of the professional drivers would have to be punished through proper implementation of the law. He hoped that if BRTA and all association, enforcement agencies (police), drivers and labourers work together and actively follow the law then it is possible to achieve the Prime Minister’s declaration “Making Tobacco Free Bangladesh by 2040” before targeted time.
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Lead Consultant, Dr Shariful Islam said, “That a clause should be included in the driving license about no smoking in public transport during managing/controlling the transport as per law.”