Tobacco companies resort to ill tactics such as incentivising and even pressurising dealers and vendors in different forms to display and promote their products at points of sale, found a recent study conducted by Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment (VOICE).
The study, titled "Tobacco Companies' Interference on Tobacco Advertisement, Promotion and Sponsorship (TAPS) at Point of Sale(POS) in Dhaka city" said tobacco companies take advantage of loopholes in the Smoking and Usage of Tobacco Products (Control) Act (2005), said a press release.
Findings of the study were disseminated on Wednesday at a press briefing held at Dhaka Reporters Unity.
Supported by Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), the study recommended that the Smoking and Usage of Tobacco Products (Control) Act (2005) should be strengthened to ban product display at Points-of-Sale.
The press event was attended by Prof Dr AFM Ruhal Haque, MP, former Health Minister, Prof Dr Habibe Millat, MP, Mursalin Nomani, president of Dhaka Reporter Unity; Mostafizur Rahman, lead policy adviser of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK). Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, Executive Director of VOICE moderated the occasion.
In the keynote presentation, Mr. Zayad Siddiki, project coordinator of VOICE told that the tobacco companies are encouraging tobacco sales by leveraging various marketing and advertising tactics
He added that they offer "Best Seller" awards each year for top performers. Both British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) also offer incentives— such as celebratory dinners and free trips at home and abroad for dealers, wholesalers, and vendors.
When launching new products, tobacco companies do rampant marketing through public relations agencies, including spot marketing and distributing marketing materials on a large scale with complete disregard to the tobacco control law.
The existing Tobacco Control law prohibits creating or distributing advertisements. But employing ill tactics such as advertising through product display at the point of sale and conducting illegal promotional activities was observed in the study regularly, the press release added.
Speakers at the event said that such marketing tactics are violating the law and such activities lead to more advertising to encourage the use of Tobacco, especially by young people.
Citing tobacco control law, the speakers urged the relevant authorities to immediately take proper steps to control tobacco companies by fortifying the tobacco control law by explicitly banning display at tobacco points of sale.
Professor Dr. AFM Ruhul Haque daid that nowadays people are quite aware against smoking but if the tobacco companies violate the law in the interest of making profit, then law related concerned should be strict.
He urged to amend the existing tobacco control law and include strict provision to specifically ban product display and advertisement in point of sale. And he also asked every walk of society to support law makers for amending the law.
Prof Dr Habibe Millat, MP said that necessary steps should be taken to amend the law and specifically ban all sorts of advertising. More alarming issue is children are being affected and we will talk about this issue in parliament.
Mostafizur Rahman from CTFK told this landmark study shows that the tobacco companies are working against the Prime Minister's vision of a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040.