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Govt anti-tobacco body strengthened

Gazette on NTCC published

Published : 15 Jul 2022 09:46 PM

The gazette on the National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC) has been published fixing the responsibilities and criteria for the NTCC after 15 years of its inception.  

The legal position of this body is now further strengthened through publication of the gazette, said anti-tobacco activists and experts on public health. 

The gazette notification titled ‘National Tobacco Control Cell Rules, 2022’ was published on July 8 by the Health Services Division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The matter was revealed on Friday (July 15).  

The National Tobacco Control Cell was introduced in 2007 as the functional arm of the Health Services Division for the tobacco control activities in Bangladesh. It is currently headed by an additional secretary of the Health Ministry. 

The NTCC was launched under the ‘Smoking and Using of Tobacco Products (Control) Act’, which was enacted in 2005 and amended in 2013. The law states about formulation of Rules fixing the responsibilities and criteria for the NTCC, but no Rules were formulated in the 15 years after enactment of the law. 

According to the ‘National Tobacco Control Cell Rules, 2022’, the NTCC will formulate the roadmap and take necessary initiatives for its implementation in order to make Bangladesh tobacco-free and to save the countrymen from the devastating and harmful effect of tobacco use. 

The NTCC will run as the government body for the effective enforcement of tobacco control law. The 

body will work on the formulation, update and implementation of short-term, mid-term and long-term national tobacco control strategies, it was said in the Rules. 

As per the Rules, the NTCC will take initiatives to involve all the departments, directorates, institutions, hospitals, clinics and other organisations under the Health Services Division in the tobacco control activities across the country. 

The body will work for raising mass awareness against tobacco use and all other activities related to tobacco control such as national coordinating body, referral and support centre for all tobacco control stakeholders, including NGOs & INGO’s in Bangladesh. 

Anti-tobacco activists and organisations are happy for issuance of the gazette on the NTCC. The publication of the gazette will make the government body a more powerful institution, they said.

Syed Mahbubul Alam Tahin, secretary at the Center for Law and Policy Affairs (CLPA), congratulated the authorities concerned for issuing the gazette on the NTCC’s responsibilities.  

“When we began working on tobacco control a couple of years ago, at that time it was difficult to convince many people why a comprehensive tobacco control law is necessary to protect public health. After a long journey, a separate tobacco control law was enacted in the country for the first time in 2005. Alongside the law, the government has adopted various policies to reduce tobacco use in the country. Against the backdrop, studies in 2009 and 2017 showed that tobacco use has declined in the country significantly,” he said. 

The expert on tobacco control and public health said that with the formulation of the Rules of the National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC), the legal position of this body is further strengthened now. “The NTCC now will play a vital role in protecting young people from the harmful impact of tobacco use in the coming days,” he hoped. 

Syeda Anonna Rahman, head of program at Health Rights division of WBB Trust, Farhana Zaman Liza of Tobacco Control & Research Cell (TCRC) at DIU, Syed Saiful Alam Shovan and some other anti-tobacco activists echoed the same.