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Hotel-Restaurant Owners in Mymensingh Advocate for Passage of Amended Tobacco Control Law

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Hotel and restaurant owners in Mymensingh Division have voiced their strong support for the passage of the amended Tobacco Control Act to ensure a healthy environment for children, women, and the elderly. This was stated during a seminar organized by Dhaka Ahsania Mission at the Mymensingh District Council Seminar Hall at Tuesday (July 9, 2024).

The speakers at the seminar emphasized the urgent need to pass the proposed amendment to the tobacco control law, which includes the abolition of smoking zones in hotels and restaurants. They pointed out that designated smoking areas still expose non-smokers to secondhand smoke, significantly increasing their risk of heart disease by up to 85%.

Additional Divisional Commissioner (Revenue) Tahmina Akhter is the chief guest at the event, highlighted the, adverse impact of smoking zones in restaurants on the youth. She stressed the necessity of abolishing these zones to protect their health and advised hotel and restaurant owners to take steps to eliminate smoking areas. She assured that everyone must play their part in creating a tobacco-free Bangladesh.

In his special guest speech, Superintendent of Police of Mymensingh, Faruk Hossain, mentioned that to eliminate the use of tobacco, resistance must be built from home. To discourage teenagers and young people from smoking, campaigns against tobacco need to be intensified.

In his welcome speech, Iqbal Masud, Director of Health and WASH Sector at Dhaka Ahsania Mission, stated that protecting non-smokers from the harms of secondhand smoke is a fundamental right. He argued that maintaining designated smoking areas in public places cannot effectively shield non-smokers from these dangers and called for a complete ban on such zones in restaurants for public health protection.

Abdus Salam Mia, Programs Manager at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), added that tobacco companies are subtly promoting smoking through strategic decorations in restaurants, which entices the youth. He reiterated the need to eliminate smoking zones in restaurants to protect people from secondhand smoke and urged the swift passage of the amended tobacco control law.

During the open discussion, representatives from the hotel and restaurant sector in Mymensingh, Netrakona, Sherpur, and Jamalpur expressed unanimous support for abolishing smoking zones. They called on relevant authorities to expedite the passage of the amended tobacco control law and implement the Prime Minister’s announcement to ban designated smoking areas in all public places, including restaurants.

The keynote presented by Md. Shariful Islam, Coordinator of the Tobacco Control Project at Dhaka Ahsania Mission. He revealed that 38.4 million people in Bangladesh are exposed to secondhand smoke, with nearly 50% being women.

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