While addressing a national seminar on 'Tobacco Control Law Amendment for Making Bangladesh Tobacco-Free by 2040' Planning Minister M.A Mannan rightly suggested to exert pressure on all parties to amend the Smoking and Tobacco Control Act to protect the health of future generations. Reportedly, six issues have been suggested to be incorporated in the amended law, are; abolition of all 'Designated Smoking Areas (DSA)' including public places, public transport, banning the display of tobacco products at the point of sale, banning all tobacco company sponsorships and their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, illustrated health warnings on wraps of tobacco products to be increased more than 90 per cent, ban on selling of retail and the small number of cigarettes or bidis and ban on the sale and imports of all types of heated tobacco including e-cigarettes.
While the economic activities generated from the production and consumption of tobacco produces huge tax revenues as well as employment opportunities in the tobacco industry, tobacco smoking poses enormous health- and non-health-related threats to the affected individuals, employers, and the society at large. Tobacco smoking is the cause of many avoidable diseases and premature deaths in Bangladesh. Reportedly, in Bangladesh, 35.3 per cent of adults use some form of tobacco. Due to tobacco-related diseases, 1 lakh 61 thousand people die every year.
Strategic steps should be taken
to limit tobacco production and consumption
It is good to note that the Prime Minister, of late, has announced plans to make the country tobacco-free by 2040. In this regard, strategic steps should be taken to limit tobacco production and consumption. Also, prices of tobacco products should be increased through implementing effective tobacco tax measures.
Experts and anti-tobacco activists opine that the lack of strong and effective law and its weak enforcement are the main obstacles in controlling tobacco consumption in Bangladesh. Therefore, Smoking and Tobacco Control Act should be amended in no time.
Increase in tobacco taxes will unarguably be the most effective means of reducing the consumption of tobacco. If its price goes out of people’s purchasing capacity, the consumption will gradually reduce. In addition, around six million adult smokers will be encouraged to quit smoking if prices go up, which will reduce premature deaths. Therefore, necessary steps should be taken to impose more taxes on the tobacco producing companies.