Campaign Against Tobacco
Campaign Against Tobacco
Since 1981, CAB has been campaigning against production and marketing of tobacco. Due to continued and persistent endeavors of CAB, advertisement of cigarettes in radio and television has been banned in Bangladesh in 1983. Furthermore, health hazard warning signals on cigarette packs have been incorporated in the same year.
CAB is always vocal against tobacco usages and took part in lobbying with the government for enactment of Tobacco Control Law. It has lobbied with the government for enactment of law putting ban on smoking in public places as well as on advertisement of cigarettes in print and electronic media and controlled use of other tobacco products. This has, however, resulted in the enactment of Bangladesh Tobacco Control Law in 2005.
CAB implemented a project titled `Consortium to Strengthen Tobacco Control Law Regarding Packaging’ during 2008-2010 with Consortium Partners with support of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK). The purpose of this project was to achieve a national law change on tobacco packaging addressing the current weaknesses in warnings, adding the inclusion of smokeless tobacco, mandating pictorial warnings and addressing enforcement measures.
A Press Conference was held at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) Auditorium, Segunbagicha, Dhaka on 01 October 2011. The objective of the Press Conference was to disseminate the news on Photo Exhibition and Seminars on Pictorial Warnings on Tobacco Products to the mass people through print and electronic media. CAB President Mr. Quazi Fauque presided over the Press Conference and presented a Key Note Paper. Among others MANAS President Dr. Arup Ratan Chowdhury, General Secretary of CAB Advocate Humayun Kabir Bhuyian, Media and Advocacy Coordinator of CTFK Mr. Taifur Rahman and Coordinator of Dhaka Ahsania Mission Mr. Iqbal Masud were addressed the press conference. Media people were requested to attend the event and cover 3-day long Photo Exhibition and Seminars that was scheduled from 02-04 October 2011 at National Press Club, Dhaka. Thirty journalists from different national dailies and TV Channels were attended in the press conference.
A colorful rally was organized on 02 October 2011 at 2:00 pm started in front of the National Press Club. About 200 people including Dr. Arup Ratan Chowdhury, General Secretary of CAB Advocate Humayun Kabir Bhuyian, Media and Advocacy Coordinator of CTFK Mr. Taifur Rahman, Coordinator (AMIC) of Dhaka Ahsania Mission Mr. Iqbal Masud and other veteran tobacco control advocates were attended in the rally carrying dummies of the proposed tobacco packets demanding the provision of pictorial health warning on all kinds of tobacco products in the proposed amendment of Tobacco Control Law. Rally attracted many pedestrians to the exhibition and seminar on opening day of Photo Exhibition.
Organized Photo Exhibition and Seminars on Pictorial Warnings on Tobacco Products
The objective of Photo Exhibition and Seminars were to create a momentum among policy makers who can play key role to amend the Tobacco Control Law and inclusion of Pictorial Warnings issue in the proposed law. A well-rounded activity plan was made for Photo Exhibition and Seminars. Photo Exhibition was open for all from 02-04 October 2011 from 10 am to 5pm.
Thirty six photographs on Pictorial Warnings from 18 different countries were selected in consultation with CTFK and prepared for display. Three large dummy packets each of cigarette, bidi and jarda with pictorial health warnings were prepared. Twenty banners were also prepared and hanged them up all at strategic points in Dhaka City so that many people able to know about the event. Invitation letters were mailed to over 500 organizations across the country including relevant government high officials, relevant government offices/departments, MPs, health professionals, youth groups, journalists, NGOs and CBOs working with tobacco control in the country. Five thousands posters highlighting the event were printed and distributed across the country. Venue for 3-day long Photo Exhibition and Seminars was selected at National Press Club, Dhaka keeping in mind that the place has strategic importance to draw media and policy makers’ attention. The event had a resounding success with key policy makers’ presence and their commitments towards passing the Tobacco Control Law in the Parliament with provision of pictorial warnings.
Day 01: 02 October 2011
Photo Exhibition and seminars were inaugurated by Minister for Industries Mr. Dilip Barua. Three large size dummy packs of cigarette, bidi and jarda with pictorial health warnings were unveiled by Industries Minister Mr. Dilip Barua, MANAS President Dr. Arup Ratan Chowdhury and CAB President Mr. Quazi Faruque, respectively.
Speaking on the occasion, Industries Minister said that though tobacco companies pays a considerable amount of money to the revenue board but the government has to pay much more than their taxes for treating diseases involved with tobacco consumption. He stressed that on-going amendment of tobacco control law should include the provision of pictorial warnings so that large segment of people will become aware about the ill-effect of tobacco use. The inaugural session was presided over by Prof. Dr. Arup Ratan Chowdhury. Mr. Golam Mowlana Rani, Member of Parliament (MP) was present as Special Guest. Dr. Sohel Reza Chowdhury, Associate Professor of National Heart Foundation Hospital and Research Institute presented a Key Note Paper on `Pictorial Warning on Tobacco Product Packages for Tobacco Control in Bangladesh’. In his presentation, Dr. Chowdhury stated that tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the developing countries like Bangladesh. According to the GATS 2009 Bangladesh is one of the most tobacco using countries in the world and ranked highest being exposed to the Second Hand Smoking in the workplace. He informed that Bangladesh is among the countries which signed and ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). He pointed out some existing health warnings on tobacco products that are being used presently. He showed some best practices of pictorial health warnings on tobacco products that are being implemented in different countries and suggested with some possible pictorial warnings.
Mr. Golam Mowlana Rani raised same voice with other discussants saying that pictorial health warnings can be effective in controlling tobacco usage. He said that representatives of the masses in the Parliament can play a significant role to include the pictorial warnings issue in the amendment of Tobacco Control Law and he will extend his support when it will be placed in the Parliament.
May 02: 03 October 2011
In the second day of the event, State Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Adv ocate Md. Kamrul Islam was present as Chief Guest. National Professor Dr. Nurul Islam was presided over the session while Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Advocate Ziaul Haq Mridha, MP; Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Women and Children Affairs Dr. Md. Sirajul Akbar, MP; Ms. Sultana Bulbul, MP and United News of Bangladesh (UNB) Chairman Mr. Amanullah Khan were also present as Special Guests. Mr. Iqbal Masud, Coordinator of AMIC, Dhaka Ahsania Mission presented a Key Note Paper on `Pictorial Health Warnings on Tobacco Products’
State Minister Advocate Kamrul Islam said that the existing Tobacco Control Law was passed in 2005 hurriedly that caused some weaknesses in the law. Gul, Zarda, Khaini and white leaf were not included in the law. Therefore, present government has taken initiative to amend the law. He informed that Ministry of Health already finalized the law and he hoped that the law would be passed in the Parliament soon.
Day 3: 04 October 2011
State Minister for Health and Family Welfare Capt. (Retd.) Majibur Rahman Fakir was present as Chief Guest in the Closing day of the Exhibition and Seminars on Pictorial Warnings on Tobacco Products. CAB President Quazi Faruque presided over the session. Ms. Nazma Akhter MP, Former VC of BSMMU and Chairman of National Health Movement Prof. Dr. Rashid-E-Mahboob, and Past Ambassador of Good Will, Lions Club International Mr. Moslem Ali Khan were also present. Advocacy and Media Coordinator of CTFK Mr. Taifur Rahman presented a Key Note Paper. In his paper, Taifur Rahman said Tobacco companies are attracting consumers by producing colourful packs. Therefore anti-tobacco organizations are demanding for pictorial health warnings on tobacco products. According to the FCTC, at least 50% area of tobacco packs should cover with Pictorial Warnings. He said according to the draft law no one can sell tobacco products to under 16-year old. In violation of the law the person may be punished to one month in jail or be fined Tk. 5000.00 or by both demanded for not selling of loose cigarettes. The draft law also included legal restrictions on smoking in public places including restaurants.
The 3-day program was covered in 21 national dailies and broadcasted by 07 private TV Channels and Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) highlighted the program in its E-News bulletin in October 2011.
The following key recommendations were generated in 3-day long seminars:
- Introducing pictorial warnings to cover 50 per cent of all major display areas of tobacco packages.
- Bringing public places including workplaces and restaurants under the definition of `tobacco products’ in Tobacco Control Law.
- Broadening the definition of `Tobacco Products’ including smokeless products like jarda, gul and sadapata.
- Banning the use of misleading descriptors e.g. ‘light’, ‘low-tar’ and ‘mild’, including colour coding and any misleading brand elements;
- Removing the provision that permits ‘smoking zones’ in public places;
- Increasing penalties significantly: the fine for smoking in public places 10-fold from Tk. 50 to Tk. 500.
- Maintaining regular communication with MPs who have strong commitment to amend the Law and motivate them for becoming an effective agent to pass the law.
- Motivating journalists to publish features, articles, news on pictorial warnings on tobacco products for raising public demand.
- Increasing public demand and consensus for an inclusive Tobacco Control Law by distributing handbills, leaflets, posters, billboards, TV commercials etc. Setting up billboards on pictorial warnings at rural level.
- Awareness raising campaign targeting rural women who consume non-smoking tobacco like jarda, gul and white leaves.
- Forming a `Parliamentary Focused Group’ consisting motivated, committed and interested MPs about pictorial health warnings on tobacco products.
- Expansion of exhibition and seminars on pictorial health warnings on tobacco packs at district and upazilla levels.