Tobacco is an obstacle in all sectors of development, including health, economics and environment. (Krishi Biponana Aiyn, 2018) Agricultural Marketing Act, 2018 has enlisted tobacco as cash crop. It will help to develop and expand tobacco production and consumption. As a result progress of tobacco control activities will be greatly interrupted. In this circumstance, Bangladesh anti-Tobacco Alliance and other anti-tobacco organizations jointly organized a campaign on 16th January 2020 in front of Abahoni Playground on demand of excluding tobacco from the list of cash crops. Speakers also demanded necessary actions by relevant government organization to promote cultivation of food crops instead of tobacco.
The campaign was presided by Director of Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust, Gaous Pearee and speakers were Professor of Environmental Science Department of Stamford University, Dr Ahmed Kamruzzaman Mazumder; Principal of Dhaka Ideal Cadet School MA Mannan Monir; representative of Bangladesh Network for Tobacco Tax Policy, Hamidul Islam Hillol, National Program Officer of Aid Foundation, Abu Naser Anik, Executive Director of Nobonita Mohila Kallyan Samity, Atika Hossain, representative from TABINAJ, MD Rashed and many others.
Hamidul Islam Hillol said that, in the constitution, importance has been given to ban harmful herbs like tobacco. There are clause in Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) Act, 2005 to discourage production and consumption of tobacco goods. Also it talks about formulating a policy to discourage tobacco cultivation. Considering tobacco as a cash crop is sheer offense of constitution, national law and order of High Court. It will slow down tobacco control activities.
Dr Ahmed Kamruzzaman Mazumder said that, Bangladesh Bank issued a circular to not providing loan or financial support to farmers for cultivating tobacco. Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh has announced to make Bangladesh ‘tobacco-free’ by 2040 considering the harmful effects of it. So it is important to exclude tobacco from the list of cash crops.
Gaous Pearee said that, Bangladesh has an amazing achievement in agriculture. Bangladesh is second largest in the world to produce food crop. Also Bangladesh is third in producing vegetables, fourth in producing rice and fish, seventh in producing mangoes. Bangladesh has succeeded in producing potatoes too. Instead of tobacco, Ministry of Agriculture should focus on the cultivation of these food crops.
The anti-tobacco organizations presented in the campaign demanded;
Immediately exclude tobacco from the list of cash crops in (Krishi Biponana Aiyn, 2018) Agricultural Marketing Act, 2018.
Withdraw share and representation of all ministries, including Ministry of Agriculture from the board of Tobacco Company.
Immediately formulate tobacco cultivation control policy.
Impose land tax on the tobacco cultivation fields.
Stop cultivating tobacco in the fertile lands, especially usable for food crops.
Bangladesh anti-Tobacco Alliance, Aid Foundation, BNTTP, ARK Foundation, BCCP, BRDS, Bachte Shikho Nari, Karitash Bangladesh, Dhaka Ideal Cadet School, Gram-Bangla Unnayan Committee, Himu Paribahan, IWB, KHRDS, NATAB, Nobonita Mohila Kallyan Samity, Progga, Protyasha anti-Drug Club, Prodesh, Sharp, TABINAJ, TCRC-DIU, UDYOG and WBB Trust jointly organized the campaign.