In order to safeguard public health, 15 anti-tobacco organizations have jointly issued a statement appealing parliamentary election candidates to refrain from the distribution and use of all kinds of tobacco products including cigarettes, bidis, gul and jorda in the ongoing 12th parliamentary election campaign. The statement read that in the past, distribution or use of bidi-cigarettes and other tobacco products by candidates and activists was noticed to draw the attention of voters during campaign. However, If such trend, involving the use of tobacco products in campaign, persists during the ongoing election campaign, it will have a negative impact on public health as well as encourage the youth to view tobacco use positively.
The prevalence of tobacco use has reached an alarming level in Bangladesh, with 37.8 million adults currently using tobacco products and 38.4 million people facing exposure to second-hand smoke at work, transports and other public places on a regular basis. Tobacco claims about 161,000 lives every year in Bangladesh. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for heart diseases and stroke. It is also responsible for causing about 20 types of cancers, including cancers of oral cavity, lung and esophagus. Bangladesh is the first country to sign the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). In addition, Article 18(1) of the Constitution bestows responsibility of the promotion and protection of public health upon the State. Article 32 of the Constitution also ensures the right to life. Moreover, the Honorable Prime Minister has voiced her commitment to build a tobacco-free country by 2040 and to realize her commitment, the tobacco law amendment process is currently underway under the initiative of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
Considering the circumstance, it would be a significantly positive milestone if all candidates of the ongoing 12th national parliamentary election campaign, for the sake of public health, pledges not to use distribute and use tobacco products The anti-tobacco organizations mentioned in their statement that this decision will also serve as a crucial step towards achieving a tobacco-free Bangladesh.
The organizations that have jointly issued the statement are PROGGA, WBB Trust, National Heart Foundation, Aid Foundation, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, DORP, DAS, MANAS, Unnayan Shamannay, BER, Grambangla Unnayan Committee, TCRC, BCCP, Nari Maitree and Shastho Shurokkha Foundation.