বৃহস্পতিবার, ১৮ এপ্রিল ২০২৪, ০৫:৪৪ অপরাহ্ন

‘Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs) Violate Non-Smokers’ Rights

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Update : সোমবার, ২০ ফেব্রুয়ারী, ২০২৩

Study Recommends Banning DSAs

Staff Reporter, Dhaka : Provision of designated smoking areas (DSAs) in hotels, restaurants, and trains has been ineffective, rendering non-smokers widely vulnerable to becoming victims of secondhand smoke. A 2022 study conducted on 118 residential hotels and 355 restaurants in Dhaka city, and 53 active passenger trains passing through Dhaka station, has come up with such findings. Among the 526 venues contacted successfully, only 41 (8 percent) venues had a DSA. However, none of these 41 DSAs were fully compliant with all measures required by the tobacco control law. The study titled “Prevalence and Compliance of Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs) in Hospitality Venues and Transportation in Dhaka, Bangladesh” was conducted jointly by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress). The study findings were unveiled today at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon of the capital during an event titled ” Building a Tobacco-free Bangladesh: Local and Global Evidence Sharing”, organized by Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids (CTFK), PROGGA and VOICE. Findings from a separate study on tobacco industry ill tactics, conducted by VOICE with support from CTFK, was also shared during the event.

In the presentation done by PRGGGA on DSA issue, it was informed that only 18 of the 118 residential hotels sampled in the study had a DSA. In 07 (seven) of those 18 hotels, DSAs were not physically separated from the non-smoking area. 07 hotels required patrons to cross the DSAs to reach the services. Notably, the existing tobacco control law requires DSAs to be physically separated from the non-smoking areas. 17 of those hotels did not have required signage indicating that the space is a smoking area, as required by the law. In the 53 train rides sampled in the study, only 21 had DSAs. However, among those 21, 07 (seven) sold services (such as food, drinks etc.) inside the DSAs, making non-smokers potential victims of secondhand smoke while using those services. None of the DSAs had the required signage. This means no train was found to be fully compliant with requirements of the law. Of the 355 restaurants where the study was conducted, only 02 had DSAs and none of those 02 DSAs were fully compliant with the law. It is not possible to safeguard non-smokers from secondhand smoke and reaping benefits of smoke-free provisions while allowing DSAs in public places, hence, eliminating provision for DSAs in the tobacco control law is highly required to ensure 100% smoke-free environment, the study concludes.

In its presentation, VOICE also reveals its study findings that tobacco companies encourage restaurant owners to set up DSAs by providing cash incentives and other necessary equipment. Such ill tactics are the result of tobacco companies exploiting the loopholes in the existing tobacco control law.

Kazi Zebunnessa Begum, Additional Secretary (World Health Wing) , Health Services Division, said at the event, “I hope the tobacco control law will soon be revamped and amended, which also include the elimination of the provision for DSAs. Thus, we can pave the way for the emergence of a tobacco-free Bangladesh.”

Jaspreet Kaur Pal, Principal Consultant, South Asia Communications of CTFK, said, ‘The study did not find a single DSA fully compliant with the law. So, DSAs are not enforceable in the non-smoking areas. By amending the tobacco control law, Bangladesh should join the list of 67 countries that have already eliminated DSAs to protect public health from secondhand smoke.” Dr. Nasir Uddin Ahmed, former Chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) said, “To ensure a 100% smoke-free environment, we must eliminate any provision that allows DSAs. It hinders the realization of a tobacco-free Bangladesh.”

Among those present in the event were Hossain Ali Khondoker, Coordinator (Additional Secretary), National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC), Md. Mostafizur Rahman, Lead Policy Advisor, CTFK Bangladesh, and representatives of a number of anti-tobacco organizations.

It should be noted that passive smoking kills its victims. On average, 1.2 million lives are lost globally a year due to passive smoking. According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2017, 42.7 percent (8.1 million) of those who work in indoor workplaces are exposed to secondhand smoking on a regular basis and almost 25 million (24 percent of adults) are exposed to passive smoking while using some public transport. Nearly, 61,000 children suffer from different ailments due to passive smoking. Tobacco claims 161,000 lives a year in Bangladesh. Currently, a total of 67 countries including Thailand, Nepal, and Turkey have enacted and implemented 100% smoke-free law which includes elimination of DSAs.


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