An anti-tobacco group, PROGGA -Knowledge for Progress – has urged the government to take measures to save the youths from the fang of tobacco.
They made the call on the International Youth Day celebrated on Wednesday in Bangladesh as elsewhere in the world.
This day is very significant as 49 percent of Bangladesh's population is youth.
According to the latest information by Tobacco Atlas, the number of tobacco users between the ages of 10 to 14 years old in Bangladesh is 172,000.
Alarmingly, the ratio of tobacco users in Bangladesh is 1.86 percent more than other mid-level countries of the Human Development Index.
The country’s future is depending on their skills and capabilities of youths.
But they might become a burden for the country instead of becoming assets due to tobacco addiction, Progga said.
Some 126,000 lives are lost in Bangladesh each year because of diseases sprouting due to tobacco use.
Progga said the tobacco industry fills up their loss of consumers by targeting children, teenagers and the youth.
Tobacco and related industries use a number of manipulation tactics targeting the youth.
ABM Zubair, Executive Director of Progga, said Bangladesh aims to attain the status of a developed country by 2041 mostly depending on the youth population.
“The young generation, if ill by the addiction of tobacco, cannot contribute in achieving that target. Therefore, it is very important to save the young people from tobacco,” he said in a statement.
“It is high time to protect the youth of Bangladesh by implementing tobacco control laws i.e.: printing pictorial health warnings on tobacco packs or containers lawfully, banning all events sponsored or arranged by tobacco industry in educational institutions, and amend the law to ban point-of-sale product display to prevent promotion of tobacco products and eliminate “Designated Smoking Area” in public places and transportations.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that tobacco companies spend yearly $900 crores to attract the teenagers and the youth and transform them into future loyal customers.
According to the US Surgeon General Report 2014, nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking by age 18.
Smoking at such an early age reduces the efficiency of lungs and hampers the rate of growth of lungs over the years.
Among young people, the short-term health consequences of tobacco use include respiratory and non-respiratory effects.
Smoking at an early age increases the risk of lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, emotional or psychological distress.