Bangladesh – National tobacco control law amended

The National Assembly of Bangladesh passed the Tobacco Control Law Amendment Bill on 29 April 2013, closing many loopholes in the country’s previous tobacco control law.

The amendment is a major step forward in tobacco control in Bangladesh, where 43% of adults use some form of tobacco. The scope of existing tobacco control measures have been extended to include smokeless tobacco products, which are used by 28% of women and 26% of men in Bangladesh. In contrast, 45% of men and just 1.5% of women smoke cigarettes. This change will protect and inform more than 13 million women.

The most important measure in the amendment are as follows:

• Smokeless tobacco has been brought under the definition of “Tobacco”.
• Restaurants and indoor workplaces have now been included among the public places that are to be completely smoke-free. Fines for non-compliance with smoke-free regulations have increased from 50 Taka (approximately US$ 0.6) to 300 Taka (US$ 3.9), in addition to the penalties for violations of other measures covered by the law.
• Advertisements at points of sale are now banned and “corporate social responsibility” activities restricted. Anti-tobacco messages will be shown if tobacco use is included in a movie.
• Sales of tobacco to and by minors have been banned.
• Graphic health warnings are to be printed on tobacco packs that cover at least 50% of each principal surface area. Misleading descriptors such as “light”, “mild” and “low tar”, can no longer be used.
• The Ministry of Health is now mandated by law to establish and operate the “National Tobacco Control Cell” (until now, the Cell has functioned under an administrative order).
• The Government is mandated to formulate policies to discourage tobacco cultivation.

The Ministry of Health will now formulate the rules for implementation of the new law, with support from WHO.

More information is available from Dr S. Mahfuzul Huq (huqs@who.int) and Dr M. Mostafa Zaman (zamanm@who.int) of the WHO country office.

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