The government is considering banning vaping, a trendy alternative to cigarette smoking among youngsters, and related products.
According to a draft law, the government is also considering raising the monetary penalty for smoking and using tobacco products in public places more than six times the existing one and banning mobile sales of cigarettes and tobacco products.
To that effect, a cabinet division committee led by an additional secretary recently forwarded a 10-point review to the Health Services Division, reports bdnews24.com.
The Health Services Division recently drafted an amendment to the existing Smoking and Use of Tobacco Products (Control) Act, which was last amended in 2013, with a provision for tougher punishment for smoking and using tobacco products in public places.
The draft was forwarded to the Cabinet Division, and as per that division’s rules, a committee first scrutinised the draft before it went to the full cabinet for approval.
When contacted, Zaheda Parveen, the additional secretary at the Cabinet Division who led the team that reviewed the draft law, said to the best of her knowledge, the Health Services Division was working on the review proposals her team made.
WHAT NEW PROVISIONS DOES THE DRAFT LAW RECOMMEND?
- Any vaping and smoking of e-cigarettes, with or without nicotine element, is prohibited, regardless of form and place. If found, the offender would be penalised Tk 5,000.
- Sales, promotion, marketing, production, storing, importing and exporting vaping products will be banned. Anyone flouting the law will be sentenced to three months imprisonment, fined Tk 2,00,000, or both. A repeat offender will face twice the jail time and be penalised double the amount.
- The owners and executives of any company involved in the sales, promotion, marketing, production, storing, import and export of vaping products will be sentenced to six months imprisonment or fined Tk 5,00,000, or both. A repeat offender will face twice the jail time and be penalised double the amount.
- Instead of the current Tk 300 penalty for smoking in public places, Tk 2,000 will be charged.
- If any individual is found making mobile sales of cigarette and tobacco products in public places, he/she will be charged Tk 5,000 as a first-time offender. For a repeat offender, the penalty will be doubled.
- The following public places will be included in the list of non-smoking zones- hotels, restaurants, eateries, diagnostic centres, coffee houses and tea stalls.
- No one will be allowed to sell cigarettes and tobacco products within 100 metres of educational institutions, hospitals, clinics, playgrounds, and children’s parks. If found, the individual will be slapped with a Tk 5,000 penalty, and a repeat offender would be penalised double the amount.
- No one will be allowed to sell cigarettes and tobacco products without the necessary licenses from the local authorities. Tk 50,000 would be imposed as a penalty for anyone found selling cigarettes and tobacco products without licenses, and a repeat offender would be penalised double the amount.
- Cigarettes and tobacco products can not have additives like spices and colour to attract consumers. Anyone flouting the law will be sentenced to six months imprisonment, fined Tk 5,00,000, or both. A repeat offender will face twice the jail time and be penalised double the amount.
According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2017, 35.3 per cent of adults in Bangladesh consume tobacco in a smoked or smokeless form. Research by Progotir Jonno Gyan, or PROGGA, an anti-tobacco research organisation in Bangladesh, indicates that tobacco kills over 162,100 people annually in the country.
Welcoming the government move, PROGGA’s Head of Programme Hasan Shahriar said smoking and use of tobacco products in Bangladesh would drop sharply if the proposed amendments are codified in the existing law and can be executed accordingly.
“The quicker the drafts become the law, the sooner people in this country can be benefited,” he said.