Rajshahi city, suburbs flooded with illegal adverts of cigarettes

Sarker Shariful Islam 

Taking the opportunity of lax of the administration to take action,  the multinational tobacco companies were propagating illegal advertisements of cigarettes elsewhere in the city and the district areas of Rajshahi recently.

It is learnt, the district administration in Rajshahi in last September issued a notice to remove all advertisements of cigarettes and tobacco products. But, by defying the order in the notice, illegal tobacco advertisements have flooded the city and the rural areas of the district. District Administration, however, has vowed to take stern action against the illegal advertisers and the advertisements of cigarettes and tobacco products.

In a recent observation, this correspondent noticed, the advertisements of Japan Tobacco International, British American Tobacco Bangladesh and Abul Khair Tobacco Company have flooded the city and the district areas, specially in front of every shops and markets. 

JTI mentions at its advertisement as 'Sheikh per stick Tk.5.00, LD Tk.5.00, Navy Tk. 7.00 while in BATB's advertisement it is written-'Here goods is available at a fair price. Bension per stick Tk.14, Gold Leaf per stick Tk.10, Star per stick Tk.7.00 and Royals/Derby per stick Tk.5.00. Also behind the advertisement it is written " Keep safe, Maintain social distance'. Meanwhile distributor of the cigarette company Messers Abul Hossain through a sticker asked the customers to contract for any advice through a hotline number from morning 9-00 am to 5-00 pm. Messers Abul Khair was also circulating another advertisement like, ' though the price increased in the Budget, your favourite brand Marise is in former price, with improved taste.' According to the Tobacco Control Act, publicity of such advertisement is banned and a punishable offence.

It is mentioned in Cigarette and tobacco use ( control) Act, section-5( Chha) clearly that By no way the publicity of tobacco products will be made at the point of sales of tobacco products. The violator of the section of the act will be punished with three months of non-rigourous imprisonment and up to Taka one Lakh fine or both the punishment simultaneously. The same punishment should be awarded to any one exhibiting any packages or package like products of tobaccor, leaflet, hand bills, poster, printed papers, bill broads, sign boards or exhibition of tobacco products any how. But, in violation of the act, most of the shops of the city have been provided with costly show-case while on the corners of some roads large umbrellas with cigarette advertisement have been set up.  The shops keepers and the salesmen of the cigarettes are being presented iwth T-Shirt, Mug, lighters and trays with cigarette advertisements.

It is alleged, taking the opportunity of Coronavirus situation, multinational tobacco companies were advertising the cigarette and tobacco products unabated. 

Manwhile, the selling of cigarettes in all shops of the city and the upazilas have been increased at least 25 percent more during the Corona pandemic than that of normal times, informed many shop keepers of the city.  

Jamat Khan, General Secretary of  Rajshahi Raskha Sangram Parishad has vehemently condemned such illegal publicity of cigarettes and the tobacco products in the city in violation of the Tobacco Control Act. He expressed his disappointment that despite such illegal publicity none of the responsible person from the admistration is seen to take action against such illegal practice.

Saidur Rahman, President of Rajshahi Press Club has also demanded to stop immediately the exhibition of illegal tobacco products and cigarettes and to take action agains those cigarette companies. 

Amjad Hossain Shamim , Media Manager and Shariful Islam Shamim, Advocacy Officer of ACD, a non-governmental organisation informed,  the mulitnational tobacco companies have flooded the entire city with illegal advertisements of cigarettes and tobacco products. They demanded to stop such illegal advertisement by operation mobile courts soon.