A discussion session was held in Dhaka Ahsania Mission Health Sector training room at Shyamoli on May 4, 2019, on the topic – “Smokeless Tobacco Use and Future Actions for Tobacco Free Bangladesh by 2040”. All the participants present at the occasion concurred that the use of smokeless tobacco is absolutely harmful to one’s health, and integrated action plan is necessary to mitigate its detrimental consequences. Mass media can influence in dissemination of such information, however, direct communication and correspondence is much more effective in raising awareness against smokeless tobacco use. Government should also be at the forefront in implementing different activities to reduce tobacco consumption. Collaboration and combination of each and every anti-tobacco activists can make Tobacco Free Bangladesh by 2040 achievable.
The event was presided by the Director of DAM Health Sector Iqbal Masud. Associate Professor of National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital, Professor Dr Habibullah Talukder; National Anti-Tobacco Platform Coordinator, Dr Mahfuzur Rahman Vuiyan; Assignment Editor of SA Television, M M Badshah; Tamak Birodhi Nari Joot Coordinator Syyeda Saida Akhter; Khandakar Riaz Hossain director of Gram Bangla Unnayan Committee; Abdul Kader Raju from the Aid Foundation; representatives from other anti-tobacco activists and DAM Health Sector staff were present at the occasion. Power point presentations were delivered at first by Mr Md Mukhlesur Rahman, Assistant Director and Tobacco Control Project Coordinator, DAM; and then by Syyeda Saida Akhter from TABINAJ.
35.3% of 15 years and older population consume tobacco products in our country and among them 22,000,000 use smokeless tobacco. 18.7% of the adult population (14.3% adult male and 23% adult female) consume tobacco leaf (shada pata) and zarda (spice made from tobacco leaves) with betel leaves. 3.6% people (3.1% adult male and 4.1% adult female) use gul. According to the Non-Communicable Disease Risk Factor Survey, Bangladesh – 2010, consumption rate of tobacco leaves is 7.1% higher than consumption of zarda among the adult population. Necessary steps need to be taken to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco products –
1. Registering the smokeless tobacco manufacturing factories for trade license, provision of lawful packaging of the tobacco products, and imposing tax on such products
2. Tobacco leaf/zarda/gul should be considered as tobacco products and necessary initiatives need to be undertaken to control their usage
3. Pictorial warning signs should be present at the tobacco product packages and strict implementation of the guidelines should be monitored
4. Instead of the “Tariff Value”, all tobacco products should be priced according to market retail price, similar to the pricing of cigarettes/bidis
5. Implementation of the Tobacco Control Law, especially the segment that prohibits selling tobacco products to underage children
6. Updating the existing Tobacco Control Law which will restrict both smoked and smokeless form of tobacco product consumption