The survey was conducted with assistance of the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Diseases Control
A research report has found that the number of tobacco users in the country has decreased by approximately 8% since 2009.
The research report - Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2017-was handed over to the Minister of Health and Family Welfare Mohammed Nasim at the ministry's conference room yesterdayafternoon.
The survey was conducted with assistance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centre for Diseases Control (CDC). The previous survey was conducted in 2009.
According to the report, the percentage of tobacco users in the country is 35.3%. Around 18% of the populationconsists of smokers, 20.6% use smokeless tobacco (SLT), and an as yet undetermined percentage use both.
In 2009, the number of tobacco users in the country wasas high as 43.3% of the population.
The report said the average monthly expenditure per smoker for cigarettes is Tk1077.7, and for bidis is Tk341.9.
More than 85% of respondents said they believed that tobacco usage causes strokes, heart attacks, or cancer.
65.8% of smoke tobacco users and 57% of smokeless tobacco users who visited a health care centre were advised to quit tobacco use.
The report also stated that among the respondents, 66.2% current smoke tobacco users and 51.3% smokeless tobacco users are thinking of or planning to stop tobacco use.
PROGGA, an NGO with an anti-tobacco campaign, said the result is praiseworthy and can be considered as progress towards realizing the prime minister’s vision of a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040.
It also said although Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in decreasing tobacco use, certain weaknesses in laws and their implementation could interrupt the progress.
It also pointed out that the absence of an effective tobacco taxation policy and the lack of proper implementation of Graphic Health Warning (GHW) regulations have prevented the country from achieving the extent of progress it wants.
Hasan Shahriar, coordinator of PROGGA, said another worrying aspect is that the government is giving opportunities to the Japan Tobacco (JT) group to invest in the tobacco business in the name of bringing in foreign direct investments (FDI).
Multi-national tobacco companies have seen adopting policies of diversifying their products as well as aggressive marketing strategies to create monopolies in local markets. The youth, comprising 31% of the country’s total population,get attracted to these strategies and may hinder the attempt to achieve the prime minister’s commitment to transform Bangladesh into a tobacco-free country by 2040, he said.