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Speakers at a city workshop

Tobacco Control Law needs to be amended

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Speakers at a city workshop urged for taking strong measures immediately to reduce tobacco use for achieving the Prime Minister’s declaration of a tobacco free Bangladesh by 2040.
They said that a strong tobacco control law and its effective implementations are highly required in this regard following the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO).
So far, no concrete steps are visible in spite of the words of the Prime Minister at the closing ceremony of the South Asian Speaker’s Summit in 2016 to amend tobacco control law in accordance to FCTC.
The existing tobacco control law is failing to reduce tobacco use efficiently, the speakers stated.
Research and advocacy organization PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress), together with Anti Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA), and supported by Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), organized the workshop for journalists underscoring the necessity of amendment of tobacco control law and needful actions by mass media on Thursday at the Shaheed Dr. Shamsul Alam Khan Auditorium of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) Bhaban in the capital.
A group of journalists hailing from print, electronic and online media houses participated in the workshop.
Former Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Bangladesh Country Lead of Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) Muhammad Ruhul Quddus; along with Team Leader of Tobacco Control Project from PROGGA Hasan Shahriar presented keynote speeches addressing the participating journalists at the workshop.
Grants Manager M A Salam and Program Officer Ataur Rahman of CTFK Bangladesh Team shared the current update on the amendment process of the tobacco control law.
Joint Editor of Bangladesh Pratidin Abu Taher; Convener of ATMA Liton Haider; Co-conveners Nadira Kiron and Mizan Chowdhury; and Executive Director of PROGGA ABM Zubair has discussed on the needful actions by mass media segment at the workshop.
Proposals placed at the workshop on the amendment of tobacco control law included 1.
Ensuring 100 percent smoke-free environments by prohibiting smoking in all forms in public places, workplaces, and public transports, including abolishing ‘Designated Smoking Area (DSA)’; 2. Ban the display of tobacco products at points of sale; 3. Ban tobacco company ‘corporate social responsibility (CSR)’ activities; 4. Ban the sale of single sticks and unpackaged smokeless tobacco; 5. Ban the sale and import of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products; and 6. Provision for stricter rules on packaging including increases to the size of health warnings.
Ruhul Quddus, stressing the urgency of law amendment at the workshop, said, “The existing pace of tobacco use reduction is not remarkable enough to attain a tobacco free Bangladesh by 2040. The existing law falls short in reducing tobacco use due to lack of strong prohibitions mentioned in the FCTC that include provision of designated smoking zone (DSA) in public places and transports, display of tobacco products at points-of-sale, corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. In order to achieve tobacco free Bangladesh, there is no alternative to formulating and implementing comprehensive tobacco control law following the FCTC guidelines.”
In the open discussion segment of the workshop, participating journalists committed to publishing news stories on the necessity of amending the current law. The workshop expressed hopes of optimism that immediate amendment of tobacco control law would contribute in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases to one- third by 2030.

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