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It is important to adopt National Tobacco Control Program with surcharge money

In Bangladesh, about 43.3% adults use tobacco. Major efforts should be taken to keep this huge population free from the terrible effects of tobacco. In a seminar titled on “Challenges of sustainable tobacco control in Bangladesh and necessary actions ” organized by Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust, speakers expressed this.

Mozaffar Hossain Poltu, President of NATAB presided over the seminar and Md. Mojibul Haque, honorable state minister of ministry of labor and employment was present as chief guest. Among others, Khandakar Rakibur Rahman, Director General of NGO Affairs Bureau; Mohammad Ruhul Quddus, Coordinator of National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC); Abu Naser Khan, President of Poribesh Banchao Andolon (POBA); Syed Mahbubul Alam, Technical Advisor of The Union and Gaous Pearee, Director of WBB Trust gave speech in the seminar.

Syeda Anonna Rahman, Program Manager of WBB Trust presented key-note presentation and Maruf Rahman, Program Manager of WBB Trust moderated the program.

Md. Mojibul Haque said, ‘People are now more aware of the harmful effects of tobacco than ever before. Increase of tax on tobacco products will discourage people more from tobacco use. He urged to the election commissioners and candidates to come forward to stop the use of bidi, cigarette in the election campaign.’ Moreover, he said, ‘It is important to adopt National Tobacco Control Program with surcharge money and my support will be there in finalizing the surcharges management policy.

Mozaffar Hossain Poltu said, ‘Government is working with the aim to make Bangladesh tobacco free by 2040. But there are still many challenges in sustainable tobacco control. Comprehensive activities and appropriate initiatives needed to overcome these challenges. The government has imposed 1% surcharge on all tobacco products since 2014-15 fiscal year. But, the policy is not yet finalized even after passing long time. Effective initiatives should be taken in this regard immediately.

Mohammad Ruhul Quddus said, government’s efforts to promote tobacco control program is continue through a joint initiative of government and non-governmental organizations. National Tobacco Control Cell is taking necessary initiatives to coordinate among inter-ministry under the leadership Ministry of Health in formulating Tobacco Control Policy, Tobacco Agriculture Policy and National Tobacco Control Program.

Khandakar Rakibur Rahman said, ‘Tobacco control is not possible only by law enforcement.  Everyone should come forward for tobacco control to protect public health. In this case, public awareness needs to be increased. Apart from the government, private organizations can also play a leading role in this regard.

Abu Naser khan said, ‘Tobacco cultivation is harmful for the environment and is a threat to food security. So, tobacco cultivation should be prohibited in agricultural land. The initiatives taken for formulation of National Tobacco Control Policy, Tobacco Agriculture Policy, and Surcharge Management Policy need to be implemented quickly.

Syed Mahbubul Alam said, ‘In Bangladesh, 61% of deaths causes due to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD). Many obstacles are facing due to tobacco industries various bad tactics. Obstacles must be overcome in tobacco control initiatives to sustain the reputation of health sector in Bangladesh. In this case, it is necessary to take action according to FCTC Article 5.3.

Gaous Pearee said, ‘Due to increasing population, tobacco industries aggressive propaganda and hindering activities, the use of tobacco use in increasing among the people. This is a matter of concern for the sustainable tobacco control. Tobacco products need to be brought under a single tax structure for effective tobacco control. Along with this, the sale of single and retail tobacco products should be banned.

Among others representatives from anti-tobacco organizations, NGO’s, CSO, professional groups and others organizations were present in the seminar.