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Introduction

 

Tobacco causes a number of serious illnesses, such as heart diseases, stroke, cancer, Burger's and respiratory diseases. Many developed countries have successfully reduced tobacco use by implementing comprehensive tobacco control policies. In Bangladesh, however, the awareness level about the harmful effects of tobacco is low. Traditionally, Bangladeshi men smoke cigarettes, biri and hukka, and chew tobacco leaf with betel quid (pan). However, women usually do not smoke but chew tobacco with pan.


Country situation:

About half of Bangladeshi men and one-fifth of women use tobacco in either smoking or smokeless (more information: http://www.who.int/ncd/surveillance/surveillance_publications.htm) form. Although there is no comprehensive tobacco control policy or legislation, a few measures currently are being enforced in the country: warning labels on cigarette/biri packets, banning of advertising in electronic media and specific locations, prohibitions of smoking in public places and transports. The situation has been improving because of these measures.
The Government of Bangladesh (GoB) has targeted tobacco as a modifiable risk factor for non-communicable diseases prevention in its conceptual framework for "Health Nutrition and Population Sector Programme" 2003 - 2006. Some organisations of GOB have been educating people about the harmful effects of tobacco, and some NGOs are organising anti-tobacco campaigns. On the other hand, tobacco companies are promoting their products by hoisting attractive billboards, and publishing advertisements in newspapers and magazines. A few private satellite TV channels still telecast advertisements on tobacco.
Combined anti-tobacco activities of GoB and NGOs have created a modest momentum in the country. Meanwhile, Bangladesh became the first country to sign the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in South-East Asia. Efforts are now needed to be intensified to expedite the process of ratification of the FCTC as well as enacting an appropriate anti-tobacco legislation conforming to the provisions of the FCTC.


WHO's contribution:

WHO provides technical and financial support to:

  1. Establish and strengthen National Tobacco Control Cell.
  2. Create awareness among people about harmful effects of tobacco, help tobacco cessation and observe World No Tobacco Day.
  3. Establish National Tobacco Control Surveillance System.
  4. Situation analysis and advocacy for enacting and enforcement of anti-tobacco legislation.
  5. Study on tobacco consumption and its health cost to facilitate evidence-based policy decisions.

Links:

Why is tobacco a public health priority? (http://www.who.int/tobacco/en/)
The Tobacco Atlas (http://www.who.int/tobacco/statistics/tobacco_atlas/en/)
Framework convention on tobacco control (http://www.who.int/tobacco/fctc/en/)

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