Bangladesh Enacts Landmark Tobacco Control Law

May 10, 2013

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Overcoming more than four years of delays and strong tobacco industry opposition, the Parliament of Bangladesh has enacted a new law that significantly strengthens the country’s efforts to reduce tobacco use.

The new law is a major step forward in a country where about 43 percent of adults use tobacco, with high rates of both cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use.

The new law closes loopholes in the country’s existing health laws, including strengthening restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and expanding requirements for smoke-free public places.

 

The new law:

  • Requires graphic warning labels covering 50 percent of the front and back of tobacco packaging

  • Bans point of sale advertising, promotion of corporate social responsibility projects and signboards

  • Expands smoke-free public places to include restaurants and workplaces

  • Bans the sale of tobacco to and by minors

  • Bans the use of misleading descriptors such as “light,” “low tar,” “mild” and “ultra light”

  • Strengthens enforcement mechanisms

The new law also extends the scope of existing tobacco control measures to include smokeless tobacco products, which are used by 28 percent of women and 26 percent of men in Bangladesh.  This change will protect and inform more than 21 million women.  In contrast, 45 percent of men and just 1.5 percent of women smoke cigarettes.

The law must now be implemented effectively, especially with strong regulations that require 100 percent smoke-free public places and workplaces without designated smoking areas.  The new law will help reduce the more than 57,000 deaths caused by tobacco use in Bangladesh each year.