Anti-tobacco activists protest sale of UDTC to Japanese co

FE Report | Published: August 10, 2018 15:44:41 | Updated: August 12, 2018 14:57:06

The flag of Japan Tobacco (JT) is seen outside the company's headquarters building in Tokyo, Japan — Reuters/File

Anti-tobacco activists have strongly protested against the government's decision to allow Japan Tobacco (JT) group acquire United Dhaka Tobacco Company Limited (UDTC) of Akij group.

They said JT was a leading "death trader" that is going to invest in Bangladesh.

"This move which will put the public health of the country into great risk, said a statement of advocacy organisation PROGGA.

Multinational tobacco companies adopt product diversification and aggressive marketing strategy to occupy the local market, it said.

The youths of the country, in particular, often get attracted to their slick publicity and marketing strategy, it added.

Currently, 31 per cent of the country's total population is youths.

So, this young generation is the main target of JT, the fourth largest tobacco company of the world.

"JT group, while expanding its market to new territories, puts forth the issue of selling so-called 'safe' tobacco vapour or e-cigarettes. But in reality, the sole purpose of its business is to create a much larger market for cigarettes," the statement said.

It said the sale of cigarettes in Japan is rapidly shrinking and JT's business in the local market of Japan has seen a decrease of 5.1 per cent.

Japan has just introduced a set of stern tobacco control regulations in the recent months, with the provision of penalising smoking in public places, the statement said.

The expansion of JT's business to other countries with lax tobacco control and government monitoring is thought to be a move to offset shrinking sales at home, it added.

This is why Bangladesh, the world's eighth largest cigarette market, has become a major target for the company, it said.

Each year about 160,000 people of the country die of diseases caused by tobacco use and hundreds of thousands get sick.



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