The Health ministry will take into account the recommendations in implementing laws to ban e-cigarettes in order to build a tobacco-free country, said Lokman Hossain Mia, senior secretary of the health services department, during a meeting on Sunday.
The meeting was jointly organised by the National Tobacco Control Cell, Department of Health Services, MoHFW and Dhaka Ahsania Mission in collaboration with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) at the conference room of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The participants were gathered to disseminate the results of the study on e-cigarette use conducted on University students of Dhaka city.
The meeting was chaired by Kazi Jebunnesa Begum, additional secretary (World Health); while Lokman Hossain Mia, senior secretary of Health Services, was present as the chief guest.
Lokman Hossain Mia said, "The health ministry has already taken some steps, such as a draft roadmap to build a tobacco-free Bangladesh. Hopefully, further initiatives will be taken to finalise it soon."
"The use of an emerging tobacco product called e-cigarette is increasing day by day which is alarming. E-cigarettes are just as harmful to health as conventional cigarettes. The law does not say anything directly about controlling this harmful product. So there is room to work on it. We will take into account the recommendations to implement laws to ban e-cigarettes", he added.
Kazi Jebunnesa Begum said "Steps have been taken to update the existing Tobacco Control Act to make the country tobacco-free by 2040 as announced by the Prime Minister. The law is currently being amended. This will take into account the issue of banning e-cigarettes."
Hossain Ali Khandaker, the coordinator of the National Tobacco Control Cell, said, "There is no specific law in Bangladesh banning e-cigarettes or similar products. That is why the issue of banning e-cigarettes should be brought under the law."
Mostafizur Rahman, Lead Policy Advisor of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said, "Bangladesh is dependent on imports of electronic cigarettes and all related items and has not yet started making or producing them. So it will be easy to ban it in this country, and now is the right time to ban it by amending the law."
Iqbal Masud, director of the health and wash sector at Dhaka Ahsania Mission, said, "E-cigarettes are a symbol of style and nobility for many young people. And since young people are largely dependent on online shopping, the availability of tobacco products online will encourage them to use e-cigarettes. That is why e-cigarettes should be banned by law."
Md Mukhlesur Rahman, Assistant Director of Dhaka Ahsania Mission, presented the research results at the briefing.
Saidur Rahman, additional secretary of the Department of Health Services (Development); Khorsheda Yasmin, additional secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration; and others were also present at the meeting.