NGO News Report :: Daily Prothom Alo-PROGGA Round Table discussion has been held. The participants urged that, Tobacco production and promotion should be controlled. Participants, at the round table discussion organized by Prothom Alo – PROGGA, have opined to control activities of the tobacco producing companies for a smoking-free environment. The event was organized at Prothom Alo office on Saturday where the speakers said, ‘tobacco marketing companies are violating the law.’
State Minister for Home Affairs, Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, at the round table titled – Tobacco Control Law and Smoke-free Environment, said that only law is not enough to control tobacco use. Tobacco promoting companies are paying advance money to the farmers for tobacco cultivation. Tobacco farming also reduces the lands fertility and this issue should be informed to the farmers and the mass people.
Motiur Rahman, the editor of the Daily Prothom Alo, said that Prothom Alo publishes such issues by its own initiative which is helpful for the commoners. He also said that anti-tobacco or anti-drugs advertisements are published free of costs on the newspaper and will be done so in future.
Parliament Member (MP) Fazilatunnesa Bappi said that in 2012-13 fiscal years, tobacco has been grown on 70 thousand hectares of lands. And in last year the land quantity stood by 108,000 hectares. To discourage tobacco farming, she said that electricity for irrigation facility should be stopped or the fertilizer packets should contain words like this – ‘The fertilizer should not be used for tobacco cultivation’. The MP also showed some images how the tobacco companies are advertising their products in different universities.
Anti-tobacco activists and organization representatives participated at the round table discussion. Participants also said that tobacco companies are on the view that they provide a huge amount of tax to the government. But the damages for smoking and the government’s expenditure for the health costs are almost 10 times to the tax that the government receives from the tobacco companies.
They added that the government has formulated the tobacco control act in 2005 and accordingly amended the act in 2013, but the Rules for the act has been gazetted in March 12, 2015. The anti-tobacco organizations allege that the Rules finalization took much time for the interference of the tobacco companies in this process.
Iqbal Masud, Director of Dhaka Ahsania Mission said that big tobacco companies are not abiding by the law. They adopt different techniques to decorate the stores where their brands are sold so that the customers could get attracted to their respective brands.
When mobile courts are on drive, they show different hand-outs that such drives are not the responsibilities of the mobile courts. But they should be made understand that they are bound to follow the law.
Mohammad Mostafizur Rahman, Joint Secretary of Law and Justice Department said that considering the harmful effects of smoking, Juvenile Smoking Act was formulated in 1919. The smoking has not been stopped even after 100 years. He also opined that diarrhea has been prevented for a strong campaign and such a campaign is required to stop smoking.
Reaz Ahmed, assignment editor of the Daily Star, citing Russia said that non-smokers can take food at restaurants but the smokers are to take foods outside of the same restaurant. Besides, smoking has been controlled in different countries by imposing a heavy taxation.
Anisul Haque, Assistant Editor of Prothom Alo said that once smoking was highlighted on stories, novel, cinema and dramas and the situation has been changed. However, some of the characters are seen smoking in some satellite channels.
Representation of the characters is also possible without cigarettes. The participants asked the mass media to come forward in smoking prevention. Shahnaj Munni News Editor of ATN Bangla opined that the law enforcers also should be brought under accountability.
Amin Ul Ahsan, former Coordinator of NTCC under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that the amended tobacco control act has banned showing smoking in all media including television. If that is necessary, there are specific directions too and the mass media should take measures about the issue.
Mekhla Sarker, Assistant Professor of National Institute of Mental Health said that when people see someone smoking on screen for removing their depression, they start believing that smoking is helpful for cutting their depressions too and a logical issue but there is no scientific evidence over the fact.
He also said that the rate of smoking among female teens has increased recently. They should be taught that smoking causes damage from their tip to toe and even that may cause damage to their reproductive health or increases the chances of looking them older than actually they are.
Another Assistant Professor of the same institute, Helal Ahmed, said that children are the worst sufferers of the passive smoking. Due to passive smoking, there are changes in the behavioral patterns of the kids, they turn over smart and do not abide by anything. He opined that the foundation course of police, magistrates and other law enforcing agencies should be attached with the curriculum.
Associate Editor of Prothom Alo, Abdul Quayum, moderated the event.
(Note: This is the translated version of the original report as it published in bangla)
In connection to that a report also published in the daily star today. You can see detail in the following link: