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‘Steps will be taken to eliminate cigarettes from list of essential products’: Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi

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Cigarettes are included as an essential commodity in the Essential Commodities Act of our country. It is quite surprising how cigarettes are on this list despite being a harmful product. I will try my best to eliminate cigarettes from this list said Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, MP.

The minister said this in the speech of the chief guest at a discussion program organized by the Dhaka Ahsania Mission at CIRDAP Auditorium in the capital on Sunday, August 28, 2022, at 11:00 am.

He also said, ‘I am ready to work 100% to make the country tobacco-free by 2040. Because this is the declaration by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Therefore, it is possible to build a tobacco-free Bangladesh through the implementation of a strong tobacco control law. I applaud and support the initiative taken by the Ministry of Health to amend the Tobacco Control Act to strengthen it.

The minister said, “The use of tobacco products is adversely affecting health, national economy and environment. The loss is much more than the amount of revenue the government gets from the tobacco sector. Besides, many people are involved in tobacco production, these people should be given alternative work opportunities. The Ministry of Commerce will do whatever it takes to build a tobacco-free Bangladesh. By raising awareness, tobacco use can be halved.’’

Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Member of Parliament and Chairman, Standing Committee on Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Professor Dr. Pran Gopal Dutta, Member of Parliament and former Vice-Chancellor, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University were the special guests at this discussion titled ‘What to do to create a tobacco-free Bangladesh announced by the Honorable Prime Minister.

Professor Dr. Pran Gopal Datta said it is needless to say that tobacco is a very harmful product. Another dangerous product that appeared these days is the e-cigarette. Both cigarettes and e-cigarettes are directly ruining our generation. Therefore, I strongly support the initiative taken by the Ministry of Health to protect future generations by amending the Tobacco Control Act.

Saber Hossain Chowdhury said that about 30 thousand people have died in the country in the last two years due to COVID-19. But the number of deaths due to tobacco-related diseases is more than 10 times. But we don’t care about that. Every year in the budget of our country the price of tobacco is increased in such a way that the tobacco companies are directly benefited. But the government was supposed to get the whole of the increased tax. But we do not see that reflection.

Mostafizur Rahman, Lead Policy Advisor, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Bangladesh and Retired Chairman (Grade-1), BCIC, Hossain Ali Khandkar, Coordinator National Tobacco Control Cell and Additional Secretary, Health Services Department, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Dr. Syed Mahfuzul Huq, National Professional Officer (NCD), World Health Organization also spoke as the discussants in the meeting. Executive Director of Dhaka Ahsania Mission Md. Shajedul Qayyum Dulal presided over the meeting and the Director of Health and WASH Sector, Dhaka Ahsania Mission Iqbal Masud gave a welcome speech. Deputy Director of Health Sector, DAM Md. Mukhleshur Rahman presented the keynote paper in the program.

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