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Government strategic plan is necessary for tobacco control Demand raised in Conference on WHO EMPOWER policy implementation

Tobacco is one of the main obstacles of development. Tobacco is one of the main causes of various non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like stroke, heart disease, cancer, long-term lung disease (COPD, asthma), diabetes etc. In Bangladesh, 59% of total deaths causes from non-communicable diseases. Smoking and tobacco consumption are responsible for about 40% NCDs. about 100,000 people die due to tobacco related causes. So, highest emphasis should give on tobacco control.

Public health experts from the country urged the above opinion in a daylong ‘Conference on WHO MPOWER policy implementation’ held at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh on 16 May 2017. The conference jointly organized by Non-Communicable Disease Control of  Director General of Health Services (NCDC-DGHS), National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC), Health Economics Unit (HEU) of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bangladesh Anti-Tobacco Alliance (BATA) and Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust with the support of The Union.

Whip of National Parliament Md. Shahab Uddin MP spoke as chief guest in the inaugural session. Adv. Fazilatunnessa Bappy MP, National Professor Brigadier Dr. Abdul Malik, President of National Heart Foundation spoke as special guests. Mozaffar Hossain Poltu, President of National Anti-Tuberculosis Association of Bangladesh (NATAB) and Advisor of Bangladesh Anti-Tobacco Alliance (BATA) chaired; while welcome speech given by Saifuddin Ahmed, Coordinator of BATA.  Program Manager of WBB Trust Syeda Anonna Rahman moderated the inaugural session.

National Professor Brigadier Dr. Abdul Malik said, Smoking and tobacco consumption are one of the main causes of various non-communicable diseases (NCDs). It creates deadly diseases in human body. So, importance have to give on tobacco control.

Adv. Fazilatunnessa Bappy MP said, Honorable Prime Minister declared to make Bangladesh tobacco free by 2040. Government will work to achieve the goal. Media and private organizations should come forward to support the government.

Mozaffar Hossain Poltu said, Tobacco companies are making hindrance in government’s tobacco control policy and law implementation through various fraudulent tactics. Tobacco companies have to be strictly suppressed in such way that they could not be able to do promotional activities by violating the law.

Whip Md. Shahab Uddin MP said, In Bangladesh, tobacco products are available at lowest price. So, tobacco use is high among the poor. That is why tobacco tax has to be increased. We will request to Finance Minister to increase tobacco tax in the upcoming budget. 

Saifuddin Ahmed said, 1% surcharge on tobacco products should use in Tobacco and NCD control. That is why immediate finalization of surcharge management policy is necessary.​

In the closing session at the afternoon, Moshiur Rahman Ranga MP, Honorable State minister of Local Government and Rural Development spoke as chief guest. Eminent environmentalist Abu Naser Khan, Chairman of Paribesh Banchao Andolon (POBA) and Advisor of Bangladesh Anti-Tobacco Alliance (BATA), Dr. Syed Mahfuzul Haq, National Professional Officer of WHO and Ad. Syed Mahbubul Alam, Technical Consultant of The Union spoke as special guests. Coordinator of BATA Saifuddin Ahmed chaired in the program. Program Manager of WBB Trust Syeda Anonna Rahman, moderated the closing ceremony and BATA spokes-person Aminul Islam Sujon read out the conference declaration.

Moshiur Rahman Ranga MP said, Government has made amendment the tobacco control law in 2013 to reduce the tobacco related deaths. In 2015, formulated tobacco control rules. Finance minister talked about tax increase. Honorable Prime Minister declared to make Bangladesh tobacco free by 2040. Rangpur is the tobacco cultivation prone area. Food crops cultivation hampered due to tobacco cultivation. As a result, a lot of crisis including poverty (Monga) observed in that area for several years. Now it seems that tobacco cultivation is going down in this region. To ensure sustainable development, I am declaring solidarity with tobacco control.

Abu Naser Khan said, as many laws passed in Bangladesh in the past 10 years, tobacco control law is the best from the context of implementation. Despite of tobacco companies’ deceitful tactics, the law implementation is going well. In this case, non-governmental organizations are playing an active role at the local level.

Dr. Syed Mahfuzul Haq said, increase of tobacco tax is very important for tobacco control. So tobacco tax should be increase in such a way that will influence the consumption.

Ad. Syed Mahbubul Alam said, to ensure sustainable tobacco control emphasis should give on WHO MPOWER policy implementation. Specific guidelines have to develop regarding MPOWER policy implementation from the context of Bangladesh.

Speakers said that World Health Organization has finalized the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2003. Bangladesh has signed it in 2003 and ratified it in 2004. In 2005, Bangladesh has formulate the Tobacco Control Law in the light of FCTC and amended it 2013 for more strengthen.

For effective implementation of FCTC, WHO has adopted MPOWER policy. Among different sessions, two plenary sessions on Sustainable Development Goals and Tobacco Control, Tobacco Taxation and six parallel session on Smoke-free Initiative, Graphic Health Warning and Ban on Tobacco Advertisement, Promotion and Sponsorships held in the daylong conference.

About 200 participants including representatives of 130 organizations from in and outside Dhaka city, 50 public health experts and policy makers participated in the daylong conference.