To observe the World No Tobacco Day 2019 with due importance and to create enormous pressure to the government for imposing high tax on all tobacco products, DAM Health Sector undertook two months (April-May’19) long campaign program with its own fund. At every Saturday of the months of April & May’19, a seminar was organized by DAM Health Sector on various topics of tobacco control; like-
1. Seminar on GATS Findings & DAM’s Initiatives for Tobacco Control:
A seminar was organized on ‘GATS Findings & DAM’s Initiatives for Tobacco Control’ by DAM-Health Sector on 06 April 2019 at its training room, Shyamoli, Dhaka. Director of DAM Health Sector Mr. Iqbal Masud Chaired the program. Mr. Hasan Shahriar, Coordinator, Progga and Mr. Nasir Uddin, Country Manager, Vital Strategies participated in the seminar as Guest Speakers. Syed Musfiqur Rahman, Editor BD Express, Mr. Masud Kamal, Senior News Editor, Bangla Vision and Mr. Abdul Khaleque Majumder, Health Inspector and Food Safety Inspector of Zone-5, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) spoke in the seminar as guests. Md. Mukhlesur Rahman, Assistant Director and Project coordinator (Tobacco Control Program) presented the keynote paper.
2. Seminar on GATS Findings & DAM’s Initiatives for Tobacco Control:
DAM released a nationwide survey report on TC Law Compliance in restaurants on 13.04.2019 at the conference room of it’s Head Office. According to survey report 61% restaurants owners became aware on TC law, 63% restaurants hanged No Smoking Signage out of which 43% hanged the No Smoking Signage according to law. Mr. Iqbal Masud, Director, Health Sector of DAM shared the report while the program was chaired by Mr. Mohammad Ruhul Quddus, former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
3. Discussion meeting on importance of imposing high tobacco tax:
Health Sector of DAM has organized a discussion meeting on the importance of imposing high tobacco tax on 20th April 2019 at 10 a.m. The Speakers said, increase tobacco tax will help to save lives and add to government revenue. Speakers also stressed to decrease the cigarette tiers from 04 to 02 (low and high) and urged to fix low tier cigarette (10 sticks) retail price Tk.50 and impose 60 % supplementary duty and in the higher tier (10 sticks) cigarette retail price minimum Tk. 105 and impose 65% supplementary duty. In all cases, the specific tax would be 5 taka. They also proposed to abolish the filter and non-filter tier of bidis and urged to fix one pack non –filtered bidis with 25 sticks MRP tk.35 with 45 % supplementary duty and tk. 6 specific exercise duty and MRP of one pack of filtered bidi with 20 sticks should be tk. 28 with 45 % supplementary duty and Tk.4.8 specific excise duty. In case of smokeless tobacco (SLT) the Speakers proposed tariff value should be abolished from SLT and mixed tax based on MRP should be introduced. The MRP of 10 grams of zarda should be fixed at Tk 35 and MRP of 10 grams of gul should be fixed at Tk 20 on which 45 percent SD should be imposed. The specific duty on these products should be Tk 5 and Tk 3, respectively. They also demanded to impose 15% VAT on all tobacco products.
4. Doctors’ solidarity for increasing tobacco tax:
Urban Primary Health Care Service Delivery (UPHCSD), DNCC, PA-05 Project of DAM’s Health Sector has organized an event for expressing the health professional’s solidarity to increase tax on all tobacco products on 27 April 2019, at Uttara Sector 6 in front of the Lab Aid Hospital, Dhaka. Several Health Professionals including Doctors from UPHCSDP and Ahsania Mission Cancer and General Hospital and other health care programs participated in the program and expressed their solidarityfor increasing tobacco tax.
5.Seminar on Smokeless Tobacco Use and Future Actions for Tobacco-Free Bangladesh by 2040:
A seminar was held on the topic – “Smokeless Tobacco Use and Future Actions for Tobacco-Free Bangladesh by 2040” on May 4, 2019 in Dhaka Ahsania Mission Health Sector training room at Shyamoli. All the participants present at the occasion concurred that the use of smokeless tobacco is harmful to one’s health, and integrated action plan is necessary to mitigate its detrimental consequences. The event was chaired by the Director of DAM Health Sector Iqbal Masud. Professor Dr. Habibullah Talukder Ruskin, Associate Professor of National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital, Dr. Mahfuzur Rahman Bhuiyan, Coordinator, National Anti-Tobacco Platform, M M Badshah, Assignment Editor of SA Television, Sayyida Akhter, Coordinator, Tamak Birodhi Nari Jote (TABINAJ), Khandakar Reaz Hossen, 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.
6. Seminar on Importance of tobacco control in achieving SDGs:
A seminar was held on the importance of tobacco control in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the conference room of Health Sector, Dhaka Ahsania Mission on 11 May, on Saturday. Speakers said that tobacco control is very important in achieving the SDGs, stronger implementation of the tobacco control law is necessary to protect children from the harms of smoking, and activities to attain SDG – 2030 should be emphasized in making a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040. Mr. Iqbal Masud, Director, Health Sector, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, presented the topic. Dr Sohel Reza Chowdhury – Head of the Epidemiology and Research of National Heart Foundation, Azmal Hossain, Head of Voice, Mr. Abdus Salam Miah, Grants Manager of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Mr. Md. Kamal Uddin, Executive Director of NATAB, Mr. Khandakar Reaz Hossen, Director of Gram Bangla Unnoyon Committee,Mr. Shafiqul Islam, Business In-charge, Bangla Tribune,Ms. Shahnaj Sharmeen, Chief Reporter of Nagorik Television, representative from WBB Trust, TCRC and SUPRO were present in the occasion. G. F. Hamim, Director, Programs (acting) of DAM delivered the closing speech.
7. Satkhira Municipality, Bangladesh expressed solidarity for imposing higher tax on tobacco products:
PEPSEP Project of DAM-Health Sector has organized an event to express solidarity with the high tax imposition on tobacco products at Satkhira on 28 April 2019, Sunday. Honorable Ward Councilors of Satkhira Municipality, staff members of the DAM PEPSEP project and health workers was present in the occasion.