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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2642

Bangladesh passed a “tough law” banning smoking in public places

By Manjari Peiris

The Parliament of Bangladesh has just passed a “tough law” banning smoking in public places, including on transport. According to this new law those who violate the law will be slapped and a fine of 300 TKs will be fined.

It is an amendment brought in to the 2005 tobacco control law to improve the situation which will ban activities of the industry under the guise of corporate social responsibilities (CSR) through which the industry did indirect advertising in a subtle manner.

Bangladesh government passed smoking and tobacco product use control law in 2005 and made it effective in the same year. But due to certain weaknesses of the law, it was not appropriately implemented and obstructions emerged to carry out tobacco control activities.

Thus the previous law could recognize promotion of products such as Zarda and Gul at public places, including parks, restaurants and private organizations.

As such the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare along with Bloomberg Tobacco Control Initiative, Dhaka Ahsania Mission and several organizations worked hard for bringing amendments to the previous law.

According to the new law leaves, roots, branches and other parts of tobacco or such plants would be treated as intoxicants. In addition to cigarettes and bidi, tobacco powder (gul), aromatic tobacco (jorda), processed tobacco (khoyni) and white leaves of tobacco will be considered as tobacco products.

Under the new law, fine has been increased from Tk 50 to 300 for smoking in public places and a fine of Tk 500 has been proposed for those engaged in the management of public places, if they fail to check smoking. The levy will be doubled on those who are using tobacco in smoke-free public areas. Restaurants are included as public places.

Another important law has been passed by the Parliament of Bangladesh making compulsory for the tobacco industry to print pictorial health warnings covering half of both sides of the cigarette packs including on wrappers of bidi.

The amended law bans sales to minors and use of “light”, “mild”, “slim” and use of misconceptions on the pack is banned.

Any kind of advertising either direct or indirect of tobacco products including at sales points too are banned. Activities in the guise of Corporate Social Responsibility of tobacco companies too has been restricted with provisions for three months’ simple imprisonment and a fine of Tk 100,000 for airing any advertisement for tobacco products.

The new tobacco control law will stand on a stringent base, though there is still remaining scope for smoking in designated smoking areas. People from all walks of life believe that government will stop the designated smoking area completely at public places, considering public interest.

The process of imposing penalty on the offenders will be carried out by Upazila Nirbahi Officers, Upazila Health Officers, Law Enforcement agencies and Family Planning Officials at division, district and Upazila levels.

The government of Bangladesh formulated this new law in light of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) that was ratified long before.

The Health Ministry had started the process of amending the previous law in June 2009; nearly six months after the incumbent government took office.

While officials of Health and Family Welfare Ministry and Dhaka Ahsania Mission greeted the government for passing amendment to Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) Bill 2013 at the National Parliament, the members of Anti-smoking People’s Forum and Dhaka Ahsania Mission greeted all those who toiled for this mission behind anti-smoking campaigns.

It is learnt that Bangladesh earns nearly US$ 250 million on tax from tobacco products each year. However the government spends more to treat those who fall sick tobacco smoking.

The new law also bans advertising of tobacco products in cinemas, newspapers, television and even restricts the installation of cigarette vending machines in public places.

Anti tobacco campaigners who have been long campaigning against tobacco use in the country, welcomed this initiative very much.

Source: Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Bangladesh

- Asian Tribune -

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