Asian Tobacco Pvt Ltd signed an agreement with Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) on Wednesday to establish a modern cigarettes and tobacco processing plant in Ishwardi Export Processing Zone with an investment of $2 million.
Voice, a human rights-based organization working on tobacco control, believes that setting up another tobacco processing plant goes directly against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's vision to make Bangladesh a tobacco-free nation by 2040 and her commitment of achieving SDGs by 2030.
Apart from conflicting with the vision, this investment of $2 million will also be a blow to the public health of Bangladeshi citizens , said a press release.
However the company's target to manufacture 119.5 crores cigar and cigarette sticks, filter sticks, packaging and to produce 73,205 kilogram tobacco will undoubtedly raise the number of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths, stated the press release.
The investment fund of Asian Tobacco Pvt Ltd stands at around Tk17 crores, whereas the government spends Tk30,560 crores for patients who come in with various tobacco-related diseases every year.
Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE said, "Permitting a tobacco company to establish a new factory in the country directly goes against Prime Minister's vision and her remarks in 2016 during the South Asian Speaker's Summit with regards to achieving the sustainable development goals."
"If things continue this way, becoming a tobacco free country by 2040 will be a distant dream" he added.
He further said, "Bangladesh is a growing economy, and it has become a role model for many developing nations. However, if we continue to permit the 'death dealers' to produce more in the name of investment, they will certainly pull down the growth by jeopardizing public health.