staff reporter, Dhaka : will be observed as World Heart Day. The theme of this year is ‘USE HEART FOR EVERY HEART’. Cardiovascular or heart diseases (CVD), which is often caused by tobacco use, is the world’s number one killer and claims nearly 1.9 million lives per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In Bangladesh, nearly 277,000 deaths are caused by CVD, with tobacco use being responsible for 24 percent of these fatal ailments. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) 2019, tobacco is among the top four contributing factors to deaths and disabilities in Bangladesh. Tobacco-related diseases cause around 161,000 deaths in the country every year. The high prevalence of tobacco use, with 35.3 percent of the adult population (37.8 million) being hooked on the deadly substance, is, therefore, exacerbating the already volatile CVD scenario.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has very recently taken the initiative to amend and strengthen the tobacco control law. The draft amendment includes proposals, such as eliminating the provision for Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs), banning display of tobacco products and packs at points-of-sale, banning tobacco companies’ so-called corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, banning sale of single stick or loose tobacco products, banning the production, import, and marketing of emerging tobacco products (e-cigs, vaping, heated tobacco products, etc.), increasing the area allotted for graphic health warning on packs to 90 percent from existing 50 percent, among others. The draft amendment has already been published on the website and stakeholders’ opinions have also been taken. However, the tobacco industry has launched a campaign of lies and disinformation to derail this measure.
In his reaction on the occasion of World Heart Day 2022, ABM Zubair, the Executive Director of PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress), a research and advocacy organization, said, “When it comes to reducing the risk of heart diseases, the Health Ministry’s recent initiative to amend the tobacco control law is a time-fitting one. The policymakers should not allow the disinformation campaign of the tobacco industry to interfere in the speedy finalization of the act.”
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