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Licence mandatory for tobacco sale

Published : 02 Apr 2022 11:11 PM | Updated : 03 Apr 2022 03:09 PM

Licence has been made mandatory for all the sellers of tobacco products, including cigarette as licencing system has been introduced for selling tobacco products in Bangladesh.

The local government bodies, including city corporation, municipality and Union Parishad, have been empowered to issue the licence to those who want to sell tobacco products and those who are already running  tobacco business.   

The licensing system was introduced and made mandatory through a guideline formulated by the Local Government, Rural Development (LGRD) and Cooperatives Ministry. 

Although the guideline titled ‘Tobacco Control Implementation Guidelines for Local Government Institutes’ was finalised two years ago by the Local Government Division of the ministry, the authorities concerned have not yet  implemented it. 

Many people are still ignorant about it. Even many of the implementing authorities are not yet aware of this. 

Md Lukman Uddin, chairman of No. 7 Dakshin Banigram Union Parishad at Kanaighat upazila in Sylhet, said he is neither aware of the guideline nor about the licencing system for tobacco sellers.  

Talking to the Bangladesh Post on Saturday the UP chairman said such a provision making licencing system for tobacco sellers is very good. “However, we have not yet received any instruction in this regard. We will introduce licencing system in our area if we get necessary instruction from the higher authorities. We want smoking to be controlled. We believe that such a guideline was formulated to control smoking and tobacco use in the country,” he added. 

Like Md Lukman Uddin, many other elected representatives from local government bodies are also not aware about the matter. 

The licencing system for tobacco sellers has been introduced in the country to regulate sales of tobacco products in the interests of public health. However, many alleged that the guideline is not being implemented due to pressure of tobacco companies.

“The local government bodies could play a vital role in controlling the tobacco use. We hope, the authorities concerned will implement the guidelines properly ignoring the tobacco companies’ interference,” said Syed Saiful Alam Shovan, an anti-tobacco activist. 

The licencing system has already started in some places. 

Jhenaidah is one of the first municipalities to introduce the licencing system.  Saidul Karim Mintu, immediate former mayor of Jhenaidah municipality who was incumbent mayor during the introduction of licensing there, said that there are over 2000 shops out of about 4000 shops where cigarette and other tobacco products are sold in Jhenaidah came under the licencing system. “Despite opposition from the British American Tobacco (BAT), we had introduced the licencing system,” he said. 

The AID Foundation, The Union and the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use played a vital role in developing and advocating the ‘Tobacco Control Implementation Guidelines for Local Government Institutes’.

Shagufta Sultana, Project Director of Aid Foundation, said that they were working to bring all the tobacco sellers in the country under the licensing system. Its implementation has started. Many shops, who sell tobacco products, in Jhenaidah, Magura and Manikganj municipalities and some other places have already come under the licencing system. It is still not implemented in a large scale, particularly the rural areas. Public representatives need to be trained in this regard, she said. 

She, however, said that introduction of the licencing system would play a vital role in controlling tobacco use in Bangladesh.

Syed Mahbubul Alam Tahin, technical advisor of The Union, also said that if the tobacco control guideline is implemented, the sale of tobacco products would be limited.

After finalising the ‘Tobacco Control Implementation Guidelines for Local Government Institutes’, the LGRD ministry issued a circular signed by Mohammad Sayeed-Ur-Rahman, a deputy secretary of the Local Government Division.

As per the Article 8.1 of the guideline, separate licences must be issued for the sale of tobacco products or for the sale and purchase of tobacco products and renewal of such licences by application subject to payment of fee every year fixed by the local government bodies. 

According to the guideline, tobacco product shops and sale outlets for cigarettes within 100 meters of educational institutions is also banned.  

With the power conferred under this guideline, the local government bodies, including Union Parishads (UPs), municipalities and city corporations, will be able to enforce the ban on tobacco products sale in the shops near the educational institutions. 

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