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Strengthen Tobacco Control Law to Safeguard Public Health

To reduce the use of tobacco products and achieve a tobacco-free country by 2040, as envisioned by the Honorable Prime Minister, the strengthening of tobacco control law is a must. Mr. Anisul Huq MP, the current Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, said this today (20 November 2022, Sunday) in a meeting with research and advocacy organization PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) and ATMA (Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance). A delegation from PROGGA and ATMA met the Minister at the Secretariat to inform about the progress made by the Health Ministry with regard to the amendment of tobacco control law and the potential role the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs can play in the process. Lauding the amendment initiative as ‘time-fitting’, the Minister said, ‘Strengthening of tobacco control law is a must to safeguard public health.’ He added that his ministry stands with full support behind the Health Ministry’s bid for tobacco control law amendment.

Citing the 2017 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) of the World Health Organization (WHO), PROGGA and ATMA informed that currently the prevalence of tobacco use stands at 35.3 percent (37.8 million) of the adult population (15 y/o and above). Tobacco-induced deaths and diseases cost the economy dearly since the financial toll is much higher than the revenue generated from tobacco sector. Realizing the extent of tobacco’s devastation, the Honorable Prime Minister voiced her commitment to build a tobacco-free country by 2040 and accordingly provided the directive to bring time-fitting changes to the tobacco control law. Following clear directive from the HPM, the Health Ministry took the initiative to amend the law. Some of the proposals included in the draft amendment are eliminating Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs) in all public places and public transport, banning the display of tobacco products, banning so-called corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs of tobacco companies, banning the sale of loose tobacco products, banning the production, import and sale of e-cigarettes and other vaping products and increasing the area allotted for graphic health warning (GHW) to 90 percent from existing 50 percent.

The discussants of the event included Md. Mostafizur Rahman, Lead Policy Advisor, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK); Professor Dr. Sohel Reza Choudhury, Head of Department of Epidemiology & Research, National Heart Foundation; Senior Journalist Sukanta Gupta Alak, Shankar Maitra, Director (News and Current Affairs), Channel-S; Mortuza Haider Liton, Convener, ATMA; and Md. Hasan Shahriar, Program Head, PROGGA.