Saturday, October 24, 2020 | ePaper

Amend law to end big tobacco's ill moves: Anti-Tobacco groups

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Staff Reporter :
Anti-tobacco groups on Saturday demanded amendment of the existing law to eliminate big tobacco companies' ill motives and CSR Manipulation.
They from a Webiner accused the tobacco companies of taking full advantage of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy hindering implementation of tobacco control measures.
The speakers alleged that amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, tobacco companies resorted to a series of cunning tactics including intense lobbying campaigns, grants, corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, spread of misinformation and other tactics.
Hasan Shahriar, Head of Tobacco Control Project, PROGGA, has presented these issues in the webinar titled "Covid-19 and Tobacco Industry", organized by PROGGA, with support from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK).
According to the observations of PROGGA, a research and advocacy organization, two multinational tobacco companies were able to secure special permission from the Ministry of Industries amid this ongoing pandemic to continue cigarette production, marketing and leaf procurement.
They secured the permission certifying the cigarette as an essential item.
On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been issuing warnings at the same time that tobacco products help spread corona infection and worsen subsequent illness.
As a part of carefully crafted CSR trick, the companies distributed personal protective equipment among law-enforcing agencies and field administration officials, arranging and participating in Facebook Live Talk Shows to promote brand image targeting the youth.
Bangladesh Country Advisor of Vital Strategies Md. Shafiqul Islam, Lead Consultant Bangladesh of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) Dr. Md. Shariful Alam, Former Coordinator of National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC) and former Additional Secretary of the Health Ministry, Muhammad Ruhul Quddus, Professor of Economics University of Dhaka and Executive Director of ARK Foundation Dr. Rumana Haque, Project Director of Bangladesh Cancer Society Prof. Dr. Golam Mohiuddin Faruque, Department Head of Epidemiology and Research of National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh Prof. Dr. Sohel Reza Choudhury, among others delivered lectures.
Anti-Tobacco activists said that CSR programs create scope for unnecessary interactions between tobacco companies and government officials and policymakers.
They call for an immediate amendment of existing tobacco control law to put an end to all CSR activities of tobacco companies.
Speakers, in the webinar, have also called for a total ban on production, import and marketing of all vaping items including e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
Moreover, they also stressed on the fact that the existence of cigarettes in the list of Essential Products is in conflict with the Prime Minister's Vision for a Tobacco-Free Bangladesh by 2040.
They demanded that the 1956 Essential Products Act should be amended to eliminate tobacco products from the list.

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