UBINIG organized an online meeting with Rowhson Ara Mannan, a member of parliament (MP) from Bangladesh Jatiya Party on the necessity of amending the existing Tobacco Control Act on Sunday, said a press release.
Rowshon Ara Mannan said, "According to the definition of the tobacco in the current Tobacco Control Act, smokeless tobacco (SLT) products like Zarda, Gul, Sada Pata, Khoini, etc are also regarded as tobacco alongside the tobacco items like cigarettes and Bidi."
"When it comes to law enforcement, hardly do these SLT products get equal share of attention as cigarettes and Bidi," she said.
The lawmaker said, "Studies show that consumption of these SLT products causes various diseases, including several types of oral cancers. Though SLT products like Zarda and Gul are widely used by the rural population, especially women, however, consumption of these items by the women of lower socio-economic strata in the urban areas is also very notable."
"As these SLT products are available in the roadside kiosks at an affordable price, consumers of these products do not have to face any difficulties in getting them whenever they need," she added.
The MP further said, "Loose selling of Zarda, Paan Masala, etc along with the betel quid often acts in favour of increasing the popularity of these SLT products. So, government should make provision in the TC law prohibiting the loose selling of every kind of tobacco products."
Rowshon Ara Mannan also said, "Government should encourage the farmers, currently involved in tobacco cultivation, to cultivate alternative crops and give incentives in necessary cases so that tobacco cultivation can be fully stopped in the cultivable lands."
The MP also said that various indirect advertising strategies are often followed at point-of-sales (POS) to attract the potential customers. Necessary amendment should be brought into the TC act that prevents the indirect advertisement of tobacco products, according to the press release.
"Of late, e-cigarettes are gaining popularity among the urban youths. It is also harmful for human health as various chemical items are used in producing it," said the MP.
"I think, e-cigarette should be banned for protecting the health of the young generation and amendment should be made into the TC law to facilitate this change," she added.
According to Rowshon Ara Mannan, a large number of minors have fallen victim to the tobacco consumption. So, selling of tobacco products to the minors should be curbed strictly.
Besides, it has often been found that graphical health warning (GHW) is not displayed on the packet/container of SLT products as no standardized packaging rule is followed in packaging these SLT products.
She said, "It is high time standardized packaging rule be introduced and provisions be made in the TC Act making the visible display of GHW mandatory. All kinds of violators of the TC Act should be brought to justice and punishment should be ensured."
"I urge the government to bring necessary amendment into the TC Act to facilitate the above mentioned changes as these measures will attribute to curbing the increasing usage of tobacco products," the lawmaker added.
I think a bill on this issue should be raised to the parliament to discuss various aspects of the TC Act at length," Rowshon Ara Mannan further said.
The lawmaker promised to extend her all out support and work actively in this regard, the press release reads.