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Bangladesh will be tobacco free by 2040: Health Minister

alth Minister Dr. Samant Lal Sen said that tobacco production, processing and consumption in every way harms the environment, public health and the economy. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed her determination to build a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040, and everyone must work together.

He said this at a discussion meeting organized on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day at Bangmata Begum Fazilatun Nescha Mujib Convention Hall on Friday (May 31).

Dr. Samant Lal Sen said that this day is very important for global tobacco control. Since 1987, the government, World Health Organization and anti-tobacco organizations have been celebrating this day in different countries of the world. Anti-tobacco rallies, fairs, discussion meetings, awarding of awards and publication of pamphlets have been organized on a wide scale in Bangladesh like other countries, keeping the theme of ‘Resist tobacco company interference, ensure children’s protection’.

Regarding the harm of smoking, he said, indirect smoking is also harmful for non-smokers. Smoking and tobacco consumption cause various non-communicable diseases including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease. 8.7 million people worldwide die prematurely every year due to tobacco.

The Health Minister said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her intention to make Bangladesh tobacco-free by 2040 at the South Asian Speaker Summit held in Dhaka in 2016, to implement the National Tobacco Control Program, formulate the National Tobacco Tax Policy, revise and implement the existing Tobacco Control Act, and health and Ministry of Family Welfare is working. Training, workshops and mass media campaigns are being conducted to implement the Tobacco Control Act.

The minister mentioned that the draft proposal has been finalized based on the opinions of various stakeholders, removing the weaknesses of the existing tobacco control law. He emphasized on family-based awareness and social movements to build a tobacco-free Bangladesh by providing protection to children and adolescents from the aggression of tobacco.

The issues mentioned in the draft proposal are:

1. It is proposed to ensure 100% smoke free environment by canceling smoking areas from public places and transport to protect non-smokers from the harm of indirect smoking including children and women.

2. Tobacco companies are unduly promoting smoking scenes in OTT, online platforms and dramas to drive teenagers towards addiction. A proposal to close them has been added.

3. It is proposed to stop sale of tobacco within 100 meters of boundaries of educational institutions, hospitals, sports venues etc. and ban sale of tobacco products without licence.

Minister of Health Dr. Samant Lal Sen presented the National Tobacco Control Awards 2024 among the individuals and organizations who received awards in various categories of tobacco control. Later the minister visited various stalls of the anti-tobacco fair and gave his informed opinion.

Secretary of Health Care Department. Dr. Additional Secretary of Health Services Department was present as an honored guest in the meeting held under the chairmanship of Jahangir Alam. Md. Ziauddin, World Health Organization Bangladesh representative Vardhan Jung Rana, Additional DG of Health Department Ahmedul Kabir, National Institute of Local Government Director General Manoj Kumar Roy and others.