Strict enforcement of the amended Tobacco Control Act (TCA) in all the restricted places and transports can be the best ways of saving thousands of non-smokers from passive smoking and human lives. The use of smoking and non-smoking tobacco products is posing a real threat to human civilization because those are killing millions of people in the globe annually.
Administrative, police and health officials and other stakeholders came up with the observation while addressing an anti-tobacco seminar at the office conference hall of Divisional 'Commissioner in Rajshahi city on Tuesday.
National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC) and Department of Health Services jointly hosted the divisional level meeting under the control programme of smoking and tobacco products largely attended by government and non-government officials concerned, development activists and other stakeholders.
Commissioner of Rajshahi division GSM Zafarullah addressed the meeting as chief guest, while Additional Commissioner Dr Moksed Ali talked about the devastating impacts of tobacco consumption during his keynote presentation. Divisional Director of Health Dr Habibul Ahsan Talukder, Additional Deputy Inspector General of Police Saiful Islam and NTCC Coordinator Hossain Ali Khandaker spoke as panel discussants.
Hossain Ali Khandaker told the meeting that around 57,000 people are dying in Bangladesh annually consuming tobacco products and 1.2 million others are suffering from lung cancer, cerebra-vascular, coronary artery, chronic obstructive pulmonary and other tobacco-attributable diseases. He said imposing restrictions on smoking in public places and transports is very important for protecting many non-smokers from various non-communicable diseases caused by smoking.
Frequent smoking in the restricted places affects the non-smokers more than the direct smokers. So, there should be a strong civil society to fight malpractice. Use of tobacco items causes many non-communicable diseases like cancers, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, tuberculosis and chronic respiratory disorder.
Hossain Ali expressed grave concern over gross violation of tobacco control law everywhere in the society and urged the authorities to take punitive measures to resist the violation.
Some tobacco companies are expanding their market through promotional activities in the name of corporate social responsibilities, which must be stopped, he added. Dr Habibul Ahsan Talukder highlighted the objectives of the seminar.
In his remarks, Commissioner Zafarullah said the government has amended the law to make it more stringent because of growing tobacco use in the country. As per the law, the selling of cigarettes to those below 18 has been banned. He said mobile courts should be conducted against all sorts of violations of the law, adding that all the district administrations should supplement Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's announcement of freeing the country from tobacco use by 2040.