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BRTC declares its vehicles smoke-free
More than 20 million passengers to benefit
Published :Tuesday, 3 May, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 116
Banani Mallick
Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) on Monday declared all its buses smoke free and as part of the programme glued smoke-free stickers on two buses.
Mizanur Rahman, (Additional secretary) Chairman of Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) declaring all BRTC buses smoke-free and the step historic, said the measure will benefit about 20 million people who travel in the BRTC bus yearly.
"This is a long waited expectation and finally we have able to declare it. Through this initiative a huge number of passengers will be benefited" he said while talking to the Daily Observer.
Earlier, a delegation of Work for Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust and BATA met BRTC chairman and requested him to declare and install the sign of smoke-free transport in all the BRTC buses which are about 1043. Accordingly, a letter was issued in this connection.
Various research reports show that at present, 43% of the adult population including 58% male and 29% female consume cigarettes, bidi, smokeless or other tobacco products, creating grave concern for public health.
Talking to the Daily Observer Syed Anonna Rahman, Programme Manager of WBB said the demand raised a long ago finally came into existence.
 "Most of the time the drivers smoke in the buses despite protests by the passengers. This step will prevent them from smoking and save thousands of passengers from inhaling tobacco," she said.
BRTC took such decision at the time when government has issued an act of displaying a pictorial warning on Tobacco packets is mandatory.
In Bangladesh, 57,000 people die annually by consuming tobacco products and 1.2m suffer from lung cancer, cerebra-vascular, coronary artery, chronic obstructive pulmonary and other tobacco-attributable diseases.
The National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC) last year issued a public circular that set March 19 this year a deadline for displaying pictorial warnings on tobacco packets.
According to the relevant law, no tobacco products can be marketed without pictorial warnings after March 19, 2016 and doing so is a punishable offence.
The Tobacco Control Law, amended in 2013 suggests that displaying warnings on all packets is mandatory for tobacco companies.
Very recently, a survey conducted by thirteen anti-tobacco organizations in eight divisional towns revealed that around 74.8 per cent tobacco products are being marketed without any pictorial health warning violating law.
ABM Zubair, Executive Director of Progga, said that already there is an order in the existing law that says smoking should be prohibited in the public places.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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