15 organizations call for stopping tobacco

Abu Sufian

Fifteen anti-tobacco organizations have issued a statement requesting everyone concerned not to distribute or use any tobacco products, including cigarettes, during election campaigns for the 12th national election campaign for public health protection. In the past,

candidates and activists have been observed to be distributing and using cigarettes and other tobacco products to attract general voters during campaigns, reads the statement.

Continued use of tobacco products in election campaigns could foster a positive attitude toward these products among the youth and pose risks to public health, it adds.

Tobacco use in Bangladesh is a significant concern, with 37.5 million adults currently using tobacco in the country, the organizations said. Additionally, 38.4 million adults are exposed to passive smoking in public places, including workplaces and transport, they added.

The statement emphasized that 161,000 people die annually in Bangladesh due to tobacco use, leading to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and various types of cancer,

including mouth cavity, lung and oesophageal cancer. As the first signatory country to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of the World Health Organization, Bangladesh is committed to promoting and protecting public health under Article 18(1) of the Constitution.

Furthermore, Article 32 safeguards the right to life. Acknowledging the dangers of tobacco, the prime minister has pledged to eliminate tobacco use from Bangladesh by 2040, with ongoing legislative amendments led by the Ministry of Health.

The statement says that including the commitment to non-distribution/use of tobacco products as a political pledge by all candidates in campaigns for the 12th national election would be a significant step toward protecting the public from the adverse effects of tobacco.

The anti-tobacco organizations expressed optimism that such a commitment could contribute to achieving a tobacco-free Bangladesh.

The organizations endorsing this statement are Pragya, WBB Trust, National Heart Foundation, Aid Foundation, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, DORP, DAS, MANAS, Unnayan Shamannay, BER, Gram Bangla Development Committee, TCRC, BCCP, Nari Maitri and Swasthya Suraksha Foundation.

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