Rezaur Rahman Rizvi
You went to the restaurant with your family. Suddenly you noticed that there was a closed room inside the restaurant as a ‘designated place’ for smoking. The smokers who come to the restaurant there smoke and hang out. Many non-smoking friends or relatives gossip in that room. However, even though the place is set aside for smoking, the smoke and smell of smoking can be found all over the restaurant. Because whenever someone enters or exits that room, the smoke and smell of smoke come out with it. The subject is very uncomfortable for those who do not smoke. And there is the issue of the harm of secondhand smoke.
Educational Institutions, Government Offices, Semi-Government Offices, Autonomous Offices and Private Offices, Libraries Elevator, Covered Workplace (Indoor Workplace), Hospital & Clinic Building, Court Building, Airport Building, Seaport Building, Naval Port Building, Railway Station Building, Bus Terminal Building, Auditorium, Exhibition Center, Theater Hall, Shop Building, Around Restaurant, public toilet, children’s park, fair or another waiting area for passengers to board public transport declared as a ‘Public Place’ in the Smoking and Tobacco Use (Control) Act, 2005 (as amended 2013) to protect smokers from the harms of secondhand smoke. And smoking is prohibited in all these places.
The law prohibits smoking in public places but provides for a “smoking area” in those areas. The law defines a ‘smoking area’ as a ‘public area’ or an area designated for smoking in public transport.
The restaurant was included as a public place in the amended Tobacco Control Act of 2013. But other areas of the hospitality sector, including restaurants that do not have one room, have provisions for designated smoking areas (DSA). As a result, people are getting confused. And with the opportunity to confuse people, opportunity-seeking restaurant owners keep a ‘designated smoking area’ (DSA) in their restaurant. This is indirectly harming the smokers who come to the restaurant.
It is often seen that the designated smoking area (DSA) is not completely covered. As a result, the smoke goes to the smoke-free area. As a result, others also become victims of secondhand smoke.
According to the Bangladesh Restaurant Owners Association, there are more than 50,000 restaurants in Bangladesh. And according to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2017 data, 50% of people only smoke secondhand in restaurants. In other areas of the hospitality sector, non-smokers are also victims of secondhand smoke. On the other hand, tobacco companies are displaying tobacco products in various restaurants, hotels and resorts as part of their promotional activities.
According to GATS 2017 data, nearly half of all tobacco users die from tobacco use. Tobacco is six of the eight leading causes of preventable death worldwide. Tobacco users have a 57% higher risk of developing tobacco-related diseases such as heart disease, stroke, COPD, or lung cancer, and a 109% higher risk of other tobacco-related cancers. That is why more than 1 lakh 61 thousand people die of tobacco-related diseases in Bangladesh every year.
35% of adults use tobacco products. As a number which is more than 35 million. Again, minors between the ages of 13 and 15 do not shy away from using tobacco products. As a percentage, it is also about 6.9%.
The number of people who do not smoke, but are indirectly affected by smoking, is higher than the total number of smokers overall. In terms of numbers, it is about 40 million people, which is more than a direct smoker. But we are not as concerned about it as we should be.
Non-smokers have the right to protect themselves from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. But the number of victims of secondhand smoke is higher. Since the smoke of smoking cannot be controlled. That’s why smoking in all public places, including restaurants, should be banned. No smoker has the right to harm others or non-smokers by secondhand smoke. If there is a ‘designated smoking area’, any non-smoking family members can also be harmed. This is because the smoke emitted from the smoking area not only harms the environment but also mixes with the air, which can be a major source of damage to secondhand smoke.
In 63 countries around the world, including Canada, Spain and Nepal, there are laws prohibiting smoking in public places. However, according to the law of our country, smoking areas can be kept in public places, non-one-room restaurants with four walls, multi-room public transport (train, launch) and non-mechanical public transport. However, Section 7 of the Tobacco Control Act should be amended to prohibit smoking in all types of public places and to ban the use of any type of tobacco, including smoking.
As a result, the necessary amendments to the law to repeal the provision of certain places for smoking in restaurants, which will be of immense benefit to public health.
Writer: Rezaur Rahman Rizvi
Anthropologist and Media Manager,
Tobacco Control Project,
Dhaka Ahsania Mission,