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Laws need to be amended to protect young people

A discussion meeting was held on March 21 2021, in the conference room of the Department of Youth Development in Motijheel, Dhaka based on “The role of youth in achieving the goal of building a tobacco-free Bangladesh” jointly organized by Youth Development Organization, National Youth Leadership Forum, Bangladesh Anti-tobacco Alliance, Prottasha Anti-Drug Organization and WBB Trust.

Md. Azharul Islam Khan (DG, Department of Youth Development) addressed the meeting presided over by Gaous Pearee (Director, WBB Trust). Former Ambassador Md. Kamal Uddin, former DG of the Department of Youth Development Akhtaruzzaman Khan Kabir, Joint Director (Poverty Alleviation) Masuda Akand, Joint Director (Training) Abdul Latif Mollah and others also spoke at the discussion. The keynote address was delivered by Syed Mahbubul Alam (TA, The Union). The meeting was moderated by AKM Neyamat Ullah Babu (President, National Youth Leadership Forum).

Gaous Pearee said tobacco companies target children, adolescents and young people to create new consumers. It should be everyone’s responsibility to protect these young people. Under the existing law, it is not possible to bring tobacco companies under punishment. In order to protect the youth, the Tobacco Control Act needs to be amended to bring the tobacco companies under control.

Md. Azharul Islam Khan said that the Department of Youth Development will work to keep the youth free from tobacco. In the near future, the youth will be made aware of the evils of tobacco in all the training of the Department of Youth Development.

Syed Mahbubul Alam mentioned in his article that the restaurants in Dhaka city are gradually becoming the promotion of the tobacco company. Tobacco companies are advertising tobacco in various restaurants in Dhaka targeting the youth group. Although the law prohibits advertising of all types of tobacco, the companies are promoting tobacco directly and indirectly on dramas, movies and online platforms. The youth should take steps to stop the company’s campaign. It is the responsibility of the good citizens to inform the nearest police station, tobacco control cell, district task force committee, deputy commissioner’s office and organizations engaged in tobacco control whenever they see any campaign and promotional activities of the tobacco company.

Helal Ahmed said, “To keep the future generation healthy, we have to keep our youth free from tobacco addiction.” The future of Bangladesh is based on their skills and abilities. Tobacco companies are running aggressive campaigns targeting all young people. If tobacco companies are not stopped, young people can become a burden rather than an asset to the country. It is time to amend the law to control tobacco companies to protect the youth.

Mohammad Kamal Uddin said smoking and tobacco should be discouraged to keep the youth free from drugs. Educational institutions need to be 100% smoke-free. To curb tobacco addiction, smoking scenes in dramas and movies need to be banned.

Akhtaruzzaman Khan Kabir said, everyone must have to work from their place to control tobacco. Non-smokers need to be given priority in all types of youth development education.

Young people from BNCC, Bangladesh Girls Guide Association, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and National Youth Leadership Forum spoke in the open discussion. The meeting was also attended by the directors and deputy directors of various departments of the Youth Development Department. The representatives of different Non-Govt. organization like Prottasha Anti-Drug Organization, AID Foundation, TCRC-DIU, NATAB, Bachte Shekho Nari, Nabonita, Keranigang Human resources Development Society, World Cancer Society, DAS, BER-DU along with others were presented at the meeting.