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Strong Tobacco Control Act A Must to Protect Public Health: Speakers at a journalists’ workshop

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When it comes to preventing tobacco-related deaths, there is no alternative to strengthening tobacco control laws. Speakers said this today (18 January 2024, Thursday) in a journalists’ workshop titled “Strengthening Tobacco Control Law: Progress, Obstacles and Way Forward” held at the conference room of BMA Bhaban. The workshop, jointly organized by research and anti-tobacco advocacy organization PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) and Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) with support from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), was conducted with the participation of 28 journalists working in print, television, and online media.

It was informed at the workshop that the draft amendment of the tobacco control law is awaiting approval from the current Cabinet. Against this backdrop, tobacco companies have become desperate to eliminate some of the major provisions from the draft, such as abolishing designated smoking areas (DSAs), banning e-cigarettes, and vaping products, banning the display of tobacco products or packets at points-of-sale, banning the sale of loose and unpacked tobacco products and so on. However, there is no scope to get misled in this regard. The Health Services Division has included these proposed provisions in the draft amendment after reviewing the global best practices. It must be ensured that the draft amendment gets approved without any interference from the tobacco industry.

A recently published report (2024) by the World Health Organization (WHO) says, that despite the continuous interference of tobacco companies, the usage of tobacco worldwide has reduced significantly. Currently (2022), one in five adults in the world use tobacco which was one in three just two decades ago (2000). The prevalence of tobacco use has also decreased in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, 35.3 percent of adults (37.8 million) still use tobacco products. Tobacco claims on average 442 lives every day in Bangladesh. The Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed her determination to make Bangladesh tobacco-free by 2040 to avoid the devastating consequences of tobacco on public health.

Former President of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) and prominent journalist Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, Lead Policy Advisor for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK)- Bangladesh Md. Mostafizur Rahman, Convener of ATMA Liton Haider, Co-Convener Mizan Chowdhury and Executive Director of PROGGA ABM Zubair were discussants at the workshop. Mr. Hasan Shahriar, Project Head, of Tobacco Control, PROGGA, delivered the keynote presentation before journalists.

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