Planning Minister MA Mannan has said the secretaries should leave the board of British American Tobacco Bangladesh so that there is no interference in tobacco control and government policies.
"The government has very little stake in British American Tobacco. I will request the prime minister to withdraw it," he said at a meeting organised by the Work for Better Bangladesh Trust and the Initiative for Public Health Research and Communication at the ministry on Wednesday.
Lawmaker Barrister Shamim Haider Patwari said, "Our efforts against tobacco are an unequal war."
He demanded that the government withdraw government's shares from the tobacco company.
Citizens, policymakers should work together
In another event organised by the non-government think tank Unnayan Shamannay in the capital, speakers opined that tobacco control law structure needs to be strengthened and the factors that are encouraging the general people to have tobacco needs to be prohibited to make tobacco-free Bangladesh in line with the prime minister's assurance.
Besides, Designated Smoking Areas, displaying smoking scenes in movies on condition, and CSR by tobacco companies must be banned.
Former central bank governor Atiur Rahman said policymakers have not only played a notable role in reducing tobacco consumption in Bangladesh but also provided significant support in anti-tobacco movements.
He added that citizens and policymakers should work together to fulfil the commitment of the prime minister through stricter tobacco control laws and the law's proper implementation.
Lawmaker Fazle Hossain Badsha said a negative impression has been created in general people's minds against tobacco. The dream of a tobacco-free Bangladesh can proceed if the tobacco control laws are strengthened.
Another Lawmaker SM Shahzada said it is evident that the use of tobacco increased at the time of the election campaign.
Necessary steps should be taken against the tradition of tempting the voters with bidis and cigarettes during election time, he urged.