As many as 100 eminent citizens urge for temporary ban in a letter to PM
Considering the severe detrimental effects of tobacco and its active role in deteriorating coronavirus crisis, 100 eminent citizens of the country have demanded a temporary ban on marketing and sales of all tobacco products during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
A letter signed by the dignitaries was sent to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday, according to a media statement.
In Bangladesh, some 37.8 million adults use tobacco products and 41 million people fall victim to passive smoking at their own homes. This huge portion of the population, victims of direct or indirect tobacco use, are currently at grave risk of coronavirus infection, it said.
The signatories urged the premier to impose a temporary ban on the sale of cigarettes, bidis, jarda, gul, and other tobacco products.
They said the use of tobacco increases the risk of coronavirus infection (due to frequent hand-mouth contacts) and also the risk of serious illness due to lung disease or reduced lung capacity, according to World Health Organization (WHO).
A number of countries including India, South Africa and Botswana have already taken this WHO warning very seriously and imposed temporary ban on the sale of all tobacco products.
The eminent citizens, in their letter to the prime minister, emphasized that Bangladesh should utilize the global experience to effectively combat the spread of novel coronavirus.
The list of signatories includes prominent economist Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, convener of National Anti-Tobacco Platform; National Professor Brig (Rtd) Abdul Malik, founder and president of the National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh; Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique, former vice chancellor of the University of Dhaka; Dr Abul Barkat, professor of Department of Economics and Japanese Studies, University of Dhaka; Ghulam Rahman, president of Consumers Association of Bangladesh; Khondokar Ibrahim Khaled, former deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank; Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, journalist leader and editor-in-chief of TV Today; Dr Arup Ratan Chowdhury, dental specialist and recipient of Ekushey Padak; Prof Dr AK Azad Khan, president of Diabetic Association of Bangladesh; Dr Nasir Uddin Ahmed, former chairman of National Board of Revenue (NBR); Muzzammil Husain Monju, senior journalist; Sukanta Gupta Alak, editor, Desh TV; Abu Taher, joint editor, Bangladesh Pratidin; and others.