The Ministry of Industries has said it is not possible to shut down tobacco industry in a hurry without creating awareness.
The statement was made in a press release issued on Wednesday by industries ministry after getting a proposal from health ministry to ban tobacco production in the country.
“It would be reasonable to keep the tobacco industry running maintaining the overall health rules as this industry is associated with the employment of thousands of marginal farmers and workers in the country,” according to the ministry, reports BSS.
“If this industry is shut down in a hurry, the country will be deprived of huge revenues on one hand; and the employment opportunities of a large number of poor people will be cut off on the other hand,” it said.
“Marginal farmers will be severely affected if they do not buy tobacco leaves. Also such a decision would give a negative impression among foreign investors directly about our country. As a result, our foreign investment flow will suffer,” the ministry added.
The ministry said, “Although smoking or the use of tobacco products is harmful to health, its users are consuming it knowingly.”
“Even if the industry is temporarily shut down, they will continue to enjoy it. In this case, it is not possible to stop smoking during the coronavirus crisis only by temporarily stopping production without personal motivation,” it added.
“Moreover, if its production ceases, black marketeers will be encouraged and the country will lose valuable foreign exchange and revenue through tobacco products, including imported cigarettes,” according to the statement.
In this case, the National Tobacco Control Cell under the Health Services Department of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare may intensify the campaign for its avoidance among smokers and tobacco national service providers.
The statement said there is no difference in the purpose of the National Tobacco Control Cell under the Health Services Division and the industries ministry.
The ministry also mentioned that it has also full support to the Prime Minister’s policy of declaring a smoke-free Bangladesh by 2041.
It said the goal of building a tobacco-free Bangladesh could be achieved by creating public awareness about the harmful effects of smoking and consumption of tobacco products.
The ministry hoped that the National Tobacco Control Cell will take necessary motivational activities as per the demand of the time.
In the COVID-19 situation, there is already a lot of pressure on the national economy of Bangladesh like the global economy and this pressure will inevitably increase in the coming days. Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, industrial and economic activities in different parts of the country have come to a standstill.
As a result, many people have become unemployed at the marginal level.
Although the Prime Minister has taken up the program of distributing cash and relief to the poor under the social safety net, it will be difficult for the government as a developing country to continue it for a long time.