Speakers at an event on Wednesday said strict tobacco control is needed to protect public health to help achieve a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040 as announced by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
It also necessary to amend six sections of the Tobacco Control Law to strengthen it, they added.
They made the remark at the discussion titled 'Need for Strong Tobacco Control Law to Achieve Tobacco Free Bangladesh' organized with Bangladesh Health Reporters Forum at Fars Hotel in the capital on Wednesday.
The National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh organised the event in collaboration with the Campaign for Tobabo Free Kids.
Dr. Ahmad Khairul Abrar, Research Coordinator of the National Heart Foundation Hospital and Research Institute, delivered keynote paper.
He said about 3.78 million adults in Bangladesh use tobacco. Another 38.4 million become victims of secondhand smoke in public places including workplace and public transport. Excessive use of tobacco products is one of the leading causes of heart disease, cancer, breast disease and many other preventable diseases and deaths. More than 1.61 lakh people are dying of tobacco related diseases every year in the country.
In addition, various studies have shown that smokers are 14 times more likely to become seriously ill than those infected with Covid 19.
The speakers said that the tobacco control law needs to be strengthened to protect the public health from these harms of tobacco.
Mostafizur Rahman, lead policy advisor of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said various aspects of the country's existing smoking and tobacco use (control) law are in line with the World Health Organization's FCTC, but there are weaknesses in some areas. If these weaknesses are revised, the law will be more effective.
Speakers at the meeting demanded six important amendments to the Tobacco Control Act. These include a 100 percent ban on all public places and public transport in COVID, a ban on the display of tobacco products in stores, a ban on CSR of tobacco companies, a ban on the import, manufacture, sale and use of e-cigarettes, and an increase in the size of pictorial health warnings and banning the sale of single stick cigarette.
Among others Toufiq Maruf, President of Bangladesh Health Reporters Forum, General Secretary of Health Reporters Forum Rashed Rabbi and Ataur Rahman Masud, Senior Policy Advisor, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids also spoke at the event.