Strong Tobacco Control Law is a Must to Protect Public Health amid COVID-19 Pandemic: Webinar speakers

Strong Tobacco Control Law is a Must to Protect Public Health amid COVID-19 Pandemic: Webinar speakers

Dhaka Ahsania Mission organized a webinar on the afternoon of September 12 titled ‘Health Risks of Tobacco Users in Corona and Role of Tobacco Control Act. Iqbal Masud, Director, Health and Wash Sector, Dhaka Ahsania Mission presided over the webinar, and the chief guest was Prof. Dr. Md. Abdul Aziz, MP and the Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Prof. Dr. Sohel Reza Choudhury, Head, Department of Epidemiology and Research
National Heart Foundation Hospital & Research Institute.

Prof. Dr. Arup Ratan Choudhury, the founder of the anti-drug and anti-smoking organization (MANAS), Md. Mostafizur Rahman, Lead Policy Advisor, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Bangladesh and Prof. Dr. Golam Mohiuddin Faruque, Project Director and Joint Secretary General, Bangladesh Cancer Society was the speaker in the webinar.

Professor. Arup Ratan Choudhury said, In Corona, we are putting the most emphasis on wearing a mask. But when someone smokes in a public place, it is not possible for him/her to wear a mask. In doing so, s/he is putting him/herself at risk, as well as the people around him/her. In addition, others are being harmed by secondhand smoke. Smokers have a 50% higher risk of dying from corona.

Md. Mostafizur Rahman said, despite the fact that tobacco users are more at risk in Corona, the promotion of tobacco companies has not stopped even during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Prof. Dr. Golam Mohiuddin Faruque said that many drugs do not work for cancer patients who did not stop smoking even during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, if the smoker is infected with corona, in many cases they have to go to the ICU.

The chief guest of the webinar, Professor Dr. Md. Abdul Aziz, MP, said that any law has to be made up-to-date as per the needs of the time. In this case, the tobacco control law also needs to be amended. In particular, there is no alternative to the necessary amendments to the law to ban designated smoking areas in public places. It is also important to legislate to curb various public activities under the tobacco companies ‘corporate social responsibility program.

In his concluding remarks, Iqbal Masud, Director, Health and Wash Sector, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, said that if the tobacco companies continue their promotion and expansion even during this pandemic period, it would pose a serious threat to public health. Besides, a strong tobacco control law is needed to eradicate tobacco use from Bangladesh by 2040, announced by Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Therefore, it is a must to amend the existing ‘Smoking and Tobacco Use (Control) Act 2005’.

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