The International Youth Day is very important for Bangladesh, as around 49 percent of the population in the country is youth.
The future of Bangladesh depends on their skills and abilities. However, because of tobacco consumption, this young population with potential can become a burden rather than an asset to the country, read to a press release issued by PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress).
According to the latest report of Bangladesh Cancer Society, 1.26 lakh people die annually for tobacco related diseases in Bangladesh. And, the tobacco companies target children and adolescents to fill the gap of the consumers they lose.
The companies deliberately resort to various manipulations to attract tobacco and nicotine-containing products.
They market new products in innovative advertisements and attractive designs, especially aiming for children and adolescents. Also, they make perfumed tobacco products, filming of tobacco in film-TV-online streaming programmes, use of media/ social media influencers, sponsoring programmes, among others, reads the statement.
Following recent data from the World Health Organisation, tobacco companies spend around $900 crore a year to attract youths to their brands. According to the latest Tobacco Atlas data, the number of tobacco users in Bangladesh between the ages of 10-14 is more than 1.72 lakh.
In Bangladesh, this rate of smokers is 1.8 percent higher than the other middle-income countries. This is a matter of serious concern. According to the US Surgeon General's Report 2014, about 90 percent of cigarette smokers smoke for the first time by the age of 18.
Addiction to tobacco products at an early age leads to a decrease in lung function and the normal growth of the lungs is hampered with age. Tobacco causes a variety of diseases including lung cancer, heart disease, premature aging, and mental instability.
In a response to the International Youth Day, ABM Zubair, executive director of PROGGA, an anti-tobacco organisation, said, Bangladesh wants to become a developed country by 2041 by relying on the youths.
"But the aim is unreachable while relying on tobacco-addicted youths. Therefore, the young society must be protected from the plague of tobacco," he said.