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Amendment to tobacco control law is needed: Health Minister

There is no alternative to preventing tobacco-related deaths and reducing illness caused by tobacco use without strengthening the tobacco control law, Health Minister Dr Samanta Lal Sen said on Wednesday.

The minister came up with the remarks during a meeting with a delegation from PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) and ATMA (Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance) held at the Secretariat.
Dr Sen also hailed the initiative to amend tobacco control law as a “time-befitting” one, said a media statement.

During the meeting, it was informed that currently (as per 2017 WHO report) the prevalence of tobacco use among the adult population (15 y/o and above) stands at 35.3 percent, which is quite concerning.

Realising the extent of tobacco’s devastating impact, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina voiced her commitment to build a tobacco-free country by 2040 and accordingly provided the directive to bring time-fitting changes to the tobacco control law.

The ongoing amendment process of the Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) (Amendment) Act 2013 has been taken as a step towards realising the prime minister’s commitment.

Some of the proposals included in the draft amendment are eliminating Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs) in all public places and public transports, banning the display of tobacco products, banning so-called corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs of tobacco companies, banning the sale of loose tobacco products, banning the production, import and sale of e-cigarettes and other vaping products and increasing the area allotted for graphic health warning (GHW) to 90 percent from existing 50 percent.

Among others, Senior Journalist Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, Mortuza Haider Liton, convener of ATMA, Mizan Chowdhury, co-convenor of ATMA, MD. Abdus Salam Mia, Bangladesh Programme Manager, Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids (CTFK), ABM Zubair, executive director, PROGGA, and Md. Hasan Shahriar, head of programmes, PROGGA, were also present.