The Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance or ATMA has demanded that the government finalises the draft amendment to the tobacco control law in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as early as possible.
The alliance of media workers raised the demand at a meeting on Wednesday, urging the policymakers “not to succumb to the disinformation campaign of the tobacco industry, aimed at derailing the amendment initiative”, according to a statement from the organisation.
As a party to the WHO FCTC, Bangladesh is committed to protect the tobacco control policies and other public health measures from the vested interests of the tobacco industry. The FCTC Article 5.3, in particular, recommends governments to remain free from tobacco industry interference while formulating and implementing tobacco control law and related policies.
The latest amendment proposal contains a number of global best practices, including eliminating Designated Smoking Areas, banning the display of tobacco products, outlawing so-called corporate social responsibility programmes of tobacco companies, banning the sale of loose sticks, and also banning e-cigarettes and other vaping products, increasing the area allotted for graphic health warning to 90 percent from existing 50 percent.
As many as 43 members of ATMA attended the meeting where its co-convener Mizan Chowdhury and Hasan Shahriar, head of programmes at Knowledge for Progress or PROGGA, shared organisational activities and highlighted future course of actions.
Senior journalist Sukanta Gupta Alak, Shankar Maitra, director of Channel-S, Md Mostafizur Rahman, lead policy advisor of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids Bangladesh, Mortuza Haider Liton, convener of ATMA, and ABM Zubair, member-secretary of ATMA, also joined the meeting.