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The government's existing share in tobacco companies is a major impediment to tobacco control

Tobacco companies are continuously obstructing the public health development activities undertaken by the government through tobacco control. One of the main reasons of tobacco companies are getting such opportunities is the existing share of the government in tobacco companies. On the occasion of National Tobacco Free Day 2022, today 13 October 2022, at 11.00 am in front of Shahbagh National Museum, a stand program was organized on the initiative of 12 organizations including Bangladesh Anti-Tobacco Alliance (BATA) on "Tobacco company interference is the main obstacle in tobacco control".

Nasiruddin Sheikh(Country Manager of Vital Strategies), Abu Naser Anik (Project Officer of Aid Foundation), Ibrahim Khalil (Project Officer of BNTTP), Adut Rahman Imon (Senior Program Officer of Dhaka Ahsania Mission), Abu Raihan (Project Officer of MANAS), Moazzem Hossain (Senior Program Officer of DAS), (Executive Director of KHRDS) Syeda Shamima Sultana, Atika Hossain (Nabnita Mahalia Kalyan Sametiri Executive Director), S. M. Shafiul Azam Chairman of Integrated Development Forum (IDF), Farhana Zaman Liza (Program Manager of TCRC), Md Salim (Executive Director of Children's Open Air Consumption Organization) and Syeda Ananya Rahman, (Head of Program of Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust) were present in the program.

In the program presided over by Acting Coordinator Helal Ahmed (Bangladesh Anti-Tobacco Alliance) and moderated by Methun Baidya (Project Officer of Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust). The speakers said that the main obstacle in the way of building a healthy and prosperous Bangladesh is the existing share of the government in tobacco companies. Various non-communicable diseases caused by smoked and smokeless tobacco are slowly killing people. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recently undertaken efforts to amend the Tobacco Control Act to protect public health from the dangers of tobacco. But tobacco companies are creating hurdles like in the past. It should be noted that not only the amendment of the law, tobacco companies have created obstacles in various ways in the past in tobacco control, such as increasing taxes, implementing laws, imposing surcharges, licensing, etc. Such activities by companies are hampering overall tobacco control efforts. It is important to take appropriate measures to counter tobacco company interference quickly.

Multifaceted measures are being taken to reduce tobacco use in the developed world. Denmark is ending the sale of cigarettes to those born in 2010. Bhutan has banned the sale of cigarettes in its own country. Thailand has established the Health Promotion Foundation to strengthen the prevention system in addition to taking action in accordance with Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to protect tobacco control from the influence of tobacco companies. Bangladesh has spent a long time in tobacco control, but has not been able to take initiatives to stop interference in the policies of tobacco companies. As a result, tobacco companies have been consistently creating barriers to tobacco control. In the current situation, it is necessary to amend and modernize the Smoking and Tobacco Products Control Act, as well as withdraw the government's shares from tobacco companies and take steps in accordance with Article 5.3 of the FCTC.