Protect public health from Tobacco Company’s sneaky

Abu Baker :: Tobacco is directly involved in mass demise; ethically no government official or policy maker should attend Tobacco Company’s programs. But government officials and policy makers are often participating Company’s programs. It is principally unexpected and clear violation of international treaty Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).  A call was made to Government, Media & anti tobacco organizations to protect public health from death marketer Company’s propaganda. The call was made to uphold country’s image to international communities.

Experts made this plead in opening program of daylong workshop on FCTC Article 5.3 organized by WBB Trust at its office. The program was presided over by Saifuddin Ahmed; Coordinator of Bangladesh Anti Tobacco Alliance (BATA). Ms. Ishrat Chowdhury; Technical Advisor for public health of The Union (International Union Against Tuberculosis & Lung Disease), Amin Ul Ahsan; Program Manager of National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC), Aminul Islam Bakul, Executive Director of Action in Development (AID) and Advocate Syed Mahbubul Alam, Director of WBB Trust addressed in the program. Syeda Anonna Rahman, National Advocacy Officer of WBB Trust moderate the opening session and as well as the daylong workshop.

Saifuddin Ahmed said much progress on tobacco control was attained in Bangladesh. If public health issues can be kept from Tobacco Company influence, it will reduce deaths and disabilities & tobacco related costs. FCTC of World Health Organization (WHO) is an important regulation. FCTC has many articles, and article 5.3 should be strictly abided by to keep tobacco control initiatives free from tobacco company interference.

Ishrat Chowdhury said capacity building of government officials and NGO representatives on Article 5.3 of FCTC. We all should be careful so that none can be influenced by Tobacco Companies. Aminul Islam Bakul said, by many ways tobacco companies violating tobacco control law including point of sale ads & promotions, they also undermine government initiatives on tobacco control. To address this issue, government should punish tobacco companies for violating law. Syed Mahbubul Alam said Article 5.3 of FCTC is the key safe-guard for public health & tobacco control. It illustrates nature of relationship between tobacco companies and government agencies. As this convention is mandatory for Bangladesh, government and concerned authorities should follow article 5.3 of FCTC.

The key note paper was presented on FCTC Article 5.3 by, Program Manager of National Tobacco Control Cell Mr. Aminul Ahsan. While Aminul Islam Sujon, Project Coordinator of WBB Trust, presented a paper on “Influence of Tobacco Companies and law violation” with pictorial example in this program.

Mr. Aminul Ahsan in his key note paper said FCTC is a decent regulation to control tobacco related deaths and diseases. Bangladesh is the first signatory of FCTC which was finalized in 56th conference in 2003 and ratified it in 2004. Now 176 countries support FCTC. In FCTC article-6 illustrates Tobacco Price and Taxation, Article-8 illustrates Smoke-free places, Article-11 concentrates on pictorial health warning, Article-13 expounds ban on tobacco ads, campaign and promotion, Article-14 shows assistance for quitting, Article-15 says about stopping tobacco black marketing, vending tobacco products to adolescents, and Article-17 and 18 illustrates tobacco farming control, protecting environment from tobacco impacts.

Aminul Islam Sujon said, if we consider public health, diseases and death, health costs, environment damages cuased by tobacco, we should not allow tobacco industry in any governmental and non-governmental discussion and policy effort. We need to build our common understanding on FCTC article 5.3, which is backbone of FCTC. Tobacco Companies are propagating fake information and practicing falsehood to hinder public health. In protesting the company interference, mass media has to play their role together with government and non-government organizations.

Representatives from 40 anti-tobacco organizations from BATA and other tobacco control wings participated in the workshop. In closing session, presided by Gaous Pearee, Director of WBB Trust and spoke Mr. Ashraful Alam Kajal, Chairman of Ghas Phul Nodi. At the end, certificate handed over to the participants by Saifuddin Ahmed, Coordinator of BATA.

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