Dhaka Conference: Amend tobacco laws, impose specific taxes

At the same time, the abundance of cheap tobacco products is further motivating people to use tobacco, which will hamper the government’s dream of building a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040, they added.

The experts also said it is necessary to amend the Tobacco Control Act and impose a specific tax to increase the price of tobacco products in order to prevent adolescents from using tobacco as the main gateway to drugs.

Delegates attending the first-ever “Dhaka Conference on Tobacco or Health 2020 (DCTOH 2020)” held at the National Liberation War Museum made the demands in the light of various studies.

The conference was attended by 250 representatives from more than 120 organizations across the country, presenting research papers through 20 oral and 28 poster presentations.

Former Chief Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office and Special Envoy of Climate Vulnerable Forum Abul Kalam Azad presented a keynote paper while Public Health Specialist Mohammad Ruhul Quddus presided over the Plenary Session of the conference.

At the meeting, 16 demands were presented to the government in the Dhaka Tobacco Control Declaration to reduce tobacco use by 2040.

These include formulating policies to discourage domestic and foreign investment by tobacco companies or incorporating them into existing policies, finalizing a draft national tobacco control program, adopting a draft national tobacco control policy, approving a draft national tobacco cultivation control policy and reducing tobacco use in the country through tax hikes.

It also called for the approval of a draft guideline prepared in accordance with Article 5.3 to stop the interference of tobacco companies in the tobacco control policy.

In the keynote papers, it is recommended to form a “Health Promotion Foundation” to strengthen the immune system through sustainable or continued funding, and to take strict action in accordance with existing laws to stop the illegal activities of tobacco companies.

It is also recommended to finalize the organogram to strengthen the National Tobacco Control Cell, to strengthen the Tobacco Tax Cell of the National Board of Revenue, to abolish the complex tax structure of tobacco products and to impose a specific tax on tobacco products.

Coordinator of Bangladesh Anti-Tobacco Alliance Saifuddin Ahmed said an initiative has been taken to amend the Smoking and Tobacco Products (Use) Act-2005. “We have recommended banning the production, distribution, marketing, purchase, and sale of e-cigarettes / vaping / Heated Tobacco Products,” he added.

Saifuddin also added they recommended repealing the provision of smoking places, use of smoking and tobacco products in public places and public transport, any campaign activities of tobacco companies in educational institutions, and ban on display of tobacco products at point of sale.

“We also recommended to make provision for direct filing of cases in case of violation of the Tobacco Control Act and to increase the number of fines as per the provisions of the Act,” he further said.

Source: United News of Bangladesh