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Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2021: Study findings unveiled

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 28th November, 2021 09:49:44 PM
  • Print news
Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2021: Study findings unveiled

The incessant interference from tobacco industry which has played roole in marketing of the tobacco products indirectly, has put the public health of Bangladesh under substantial risk.

The country's score in the 2021 Tobacco Industry Interference Index stands at 72 which was 68 last year. The increase in score suggests a worsening trend in terms of tobacco industry interference.

Due to aggressive indirect marketing activities of tobacco companies during the Covid-19 pandemic, the implementation of World Health Organization (WHO)'s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and also the realization of Bangladesh's own vision of being a tobacco-free country by 2040 are now under threat of being derailed.

Such concerning facts and many more facts about tobacco products and industries were disclosed as the research findings of ‘Tobacco Industry Interference Index: The FCTC Article 5.3 Implementation Report, Bangladesh 2021’ was unveiled during an event, jointly organized by research and advocacy organization PROGGA and Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) at the CIRDAP Auditorium in the capital on Sunday.

The Chief Guest, Saber Hossain Chowdhury MP, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Forestry and Climate Change, said,  “Tobacco is killing more people than COVID-19. Nonetheless, the government is yet to take effective tobacco control measures. The question arises whether the government bodies really hold the spirit of FCTC and the PM's vision of a tobacco-free country.”

Eminent economist and the convener of the National Anti-Tobacco Platform, Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said, "Bangladesh has made very poor performance in the Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index. We also scored the poorest among our South Asian peers. Why did we perform so poorly?" To improve the situation, he demanded divestment of the government's share in BATB and reinstatement of 25% export duty on tobacco.

Prominent Journalist and Editor-in-Chief of TV Today Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul said, “Government bodies need to be sensitized so that they do not accept any aid from tobacco industry. Receiving donations from the tobacco industry is a clear violation of FCTC as well as in conflict with the declaration of the Prime Minister.”

The study findings show that Bangladesh has experienced an increase in tobacco industry interference during the study period (January 2020-March 2021) and there has been no progress in the implementation of Article 5.3 Guidelines. The time period has also seen a recurrence of tobacco industry's attempt to interfere and exert influence in policymaking via diplomatic channel.

On behalf of Japan Tobacco Inc. (JTI), the Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh wrote a letter to the finance minister where the diplomat said, any tobacco control measure that may hurt business interest of JTI would cause a cessation of the flow of Japanese FDI into the country. The report covers another stark anti-public health move that took place during the early days of Covid-19 pandemic.