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Tobacco activists demand amendment to tobacco control laws

Published : Saturday, 26 September, 2020 at 10:00 PM  Count : 178

Anti-tobacco leaders demand an immediate amendment of existing tobacco control laws to put an end to all corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities of tobacco companies.

A webinar titled "COVID-19 and Tobacco Industry", organized by PROGGA, with support from campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), has presented these issues by Mr Hasan Shahriar, Head of Tobacco Control Project, PROGGA on Saturday.

Speakers said that with a view to continuing the death trade amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, tobacco companies have resorted to a series of cunning tactics including intense lobbying campaigns, grants, corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, spread of misinformation and other tactics.

According to the observations of PROGGA, a research and advocacy organization, two multinational tobacco companies were able to secure special permission from the Ministry of Industries amid this ongoing pandemic to continue cigarette production, marketing and leaf procurement by presenting cigarette as an essential item, while the World Health Organization (WHO) has been warning that tobacco products help spread corona infection and worsen subsequent illness. 

Vaping traders have become particularly desperate in recent times, aggressively targeting the youth. Campaigns after campaigns are being launched everyday on social media platforms to spread utter lies and misinformation and to get the youth into vaping.

Speakers, in the webinar, have also called for a total ban on production, import and marketing of all vaping items including e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

Moreover, they also stressed on the fact that the existence of cigarettes in the list of essential products is in conflict with vision for a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040 of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

They demanded the amendment of the Essential Products Act 1956 to eliminate tobacco products from the list.
Bangladesh Country Advisor for Vital Strategies Md Shafiqul Islam, lead consultant Bangladesh of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) Dr Md Shariful Alam, Former Coordinator of National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC) and former Additional Secretary of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) Muhammad Ruhul Quddus, Professor of Economics Department of University of Dhaka and Executive Director of ARK Foundation Dr Rumana Haque and Executive Director of PROGGA ABM Zubair spoke in the webinar.


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