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‘Public awareness a must for abolishing smoking in public places’

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State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali said that there is currently no alternative to raising public awareness on the need to intensify the anti-tobacco campaign to curb smoking. In this case, the media of Bangladesh can play an important role. Smoking was once thought of as a fashion, but effective anti-tobacco campaigns have gradually changed social attitudes and attitudes. People have learned about the harmful effects of smoking.

The state minister was speaking as the chief guest at a discussion on “Role of Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism in eliminating smoking space in restaurants” jointly organized by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism and Ahsania Mission at the meeting room of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism at Bangladesh Secretariat on Tuesday.

He added that Bangladesh has signed and re-signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organization to prevent the harm caused by tobacco use. Smoking and Tobacco Use (Control) Act has been enacted, amended and related rules have been formulated. The law may be amended if necessary to curb smoking, but effective enforcement of existing laws must be ensured before then.

In his welcome address, Iqbal Masud, Director, Health and Wash Sector, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, said that tobacco is responsible for many non-communicable diseases. And the Dhaka Ahsania Mission is trying to fulfill the dream of making the country tobacco-free by 2040 announced by the Hon’ble Prime Minister. Therefore, in collaboration with the Restaurant Owners Association, we have conducted smoke-free activities in 24 districts of the country. Star hotels have banned smoking in their hotels and restaurants for the most part. However, it has not yet been possible to make medium-quality restaurants smoke-free. They requested the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism to take steps to make the restaurants completely smoke-free.

Speaking at the conference, Secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mokammel Hossain said that many people around the world die every year due to direct and indirect smoking. No smoker has the right to harm a non-smoker. People should consider how much harm it does to indirect smoking as a result of having a ‘smoking area’ in the restaurant. It is possible to make the country tobacco-free only on the basis of mutual cooperation.

Chairman of Bangladesh Tourism Corporation Mohammad Hannan Mia and Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Biman Bangladesh Airlines Dr. Abu Saleh Mohammad Mostafa Kamal also spoke at the meeting. Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism Janendra Nath Sarkar, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Coordinator of the National Tobacco Control Cell Hossain Ali Khondakar, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Bangladesh Lead Policy Advisor Md Mostafizur Rahman were also present at the discussion.

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