The Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB)-Chattogram, the Bangladesh Institute of Theatre Art (Bita) and humanitarian organisation ELMA have demanded a temporary ban on tobacco products to protect young people from Covid-19 death risks.
In a joint statement issued on Monday, the organisations said the website of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research shows a large number of young men have been infected with the novel coronavirus.
Age-based analysis shows that people between 21 and 30 years old are mostly testing positive for Covid-19, the statement reads.
"Experts say tobacco users are more likely to be infected with the novel coronavirus because their lungs are weaker. Young people have weak lungs due to their habit of smoking and other smokeless tobacco. As novel coronavirus first strikes the respiratory tract, young people are being affected more," the statement adds.
The statement further said the World Health Organization (WHO) said tobacco use increases the risk of novel coronavirus infection. Tobacco products increase lung infections and illness and weaken the body's immune system, which is extremely risky for Covid-19 patients.
Following the WHO guidelines on preventing coronavirus infections, India, South Africa and Botswana have already imposed temporary bans on tobacco products.
At present, 3.6 crore adults use tobacco in the country and 4.10 crore adults are victims of second-hand smoke in their own homes. About 1.26 lakh people die every year due to tobacco use in Bangladesh.
This huge population is currently at serious risk of novel coronavirus infection, according to the statement.
In this situation, imposing a ban on marketing and sale of all tobacco products including cigarettes, bidis, jorda and gul is a must to protect public health during the pandemic, the joint statement reads.