The government is considering banning production, import and marketing of e-cigarettes in the country soon to refrain the youths from consuming the harmful tobacco products.
"It will be a time-befitting decision to ban the production, import and marketing of all kinds of products made from tobacco, including e-cigarettes and Vaping, in the country within the quickest possible time to protect the youths from the growing use and harms of the tobacco," Medical Education and Family Welfare Division Secretary Shaikh Yusuf Harun said.
On behalf of Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque, Harun was addressing a press conference titled 'Emerging Tobacco Product (e-cigarettes and Vaping): Bangladesh and International Perspectives and Our Responsibilities' at the ministry here.
Directorate General of Health Services Director General Professor Dr Abul Kalam Azad and Regional Director of the South Asia Programmes at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Vandana Shah also spoke at the press conference.
The use of tobacco products by youths is being increased gradually across the country while numerous sales centres have been set up in different divisional cities, including the capital Dhaka, Harun observed, adding the tobacco products are also being sold out through online and using social media like facebook.
Noting that over 30 countries, including neighbouring countries India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand and Singapore, have banned the emerging tobacco products, Harun said Bangladesh should utilise the global experience.
Replying to a query, Abul Kalam Azad said, "It (emerging tobacco product) is new for us."
"Once upon a time, e-cigarettes were considered as the safe alternative to the tobacco. But different harmful sides of the emerging tobacco products have been discovered in different researches. So, we are now thinking about taking steps in this regard," Azad added.
Vandana Shah said multinational tobacco companies are producing and marketing the e-cigarettes to different countries across the world targeting the youths and children.
Use of emerging tobacco products turned into alarming shape in different countries, including the USA and the UK, Shah said, adding that production, import and marketing of such harmful products should be banned in Bangladesh before it turns into alarming level.
The World Health Organization in its latest report has identified the e-cigarette as certainly harmful product to the health.
According to the available data, about 49 percent of the country's total population is youth who are 24-year-old or under 24 years. It will be difficult to achieve the target of transforming the country into tobacco-free one by 2040 if the government fails to refrain the youths from using tobacco products.