Barrister Rumeen Farhana – a BNP member of parliament (MP) from a reserved seat – has urged all lawmakers to work together to curb tobacco use in the country, and strengthen tobacco control laws by amending them.
Addressing an event organised by the Tamak Birodhi Nari Jote (Women's Alliance Against Tobacco) on Wednesday, Farhana emphasised the importance of changing the packaging of smokeless tobacco products, as well as banning the open sale and display of all such products, including cigarettes.
The lawmaker continued, "According to research performed by UBINIG [a non-governmental organisation based in Dhaka], a lot of people are now using smokeless tobacco products in the country."
"The availability of zarda [flavoured chewing tobacco flakes] in packaging of various shapes and sizes has increased its user-base among the populace, which is concerning. Due to open sales, an increase in prices and taxes on such products remain ineffective in curbing their use," she added.
She continued, "Open displays of various tobacco products, including smokeless ones, are attracting people to these harmful products. Though banned by law, many people are not following the rules against smoking and using other tobacco products in public places."
At the event, lawmaker Farhana also emphasised the importance of raising public awareness about the issue. She pointed out the importance of disseminating anti-tobacco content such as dramas, documentaries and advertisements in the mainstream media and on social network platforms.
Farhana added that family members must alert the children and teenagers in their households about the harmful effects of smoking and other tobacco products from an early age.