‘Tobacco cos run promotional campaign ignoring law’

BSS, Dhaka :Tobacco companies are running promotional campaign adopting different methods at sales points in the city ignoring the tobacco control law. The government has amended the Smoking and Using of Tobacco Products (control) Act, 2005 by incorporating strong provisions removing loopholes that were in the law. As per the tobacco law, all forms of tobacco advertising, promotional activities and sponsorship by tobacco companies have been banned.Talking to BSS, anti-tobacco campaigners termed the promotional campaign at the sales points a clear violation of tobacco control law. The amended tobacco control law prohibited all kinds of promotional activities at the points of sales and other places, they added. But tobacco companies do not follow the law, the anti-tobacco activists added.Visiting different sales points in Dhaka city, this correspondent found that both local and foreign tobacco companies are conducting promotional campaign of their products through different ways.Small- size colorful leaflets of leading cigarette companies were seen at tea stalls, point of sales and others shops at Shewrapara, Kaziapara, and other areas of Mirpur in the city. Md Islam, owner of a tea stall said, “Cigarette companies usually give such types of leaflets for displaying at his tea stall. I do not know whether it is legally banned.” Alongside the leaflets, colourful empty cigarette packets of particular tobacco company are displayed at the tea stalls to attract customers. Such types of posters containing pictures of different cigarette packets at tea stalls, point of sales and shops are common in the city.About the promotional activities of tobacco companies, Advocacy and Media Coordinator (Bangladesh) of the campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Taifur Rahman said it is a clear violation of law by tobacco companies as the tobacco law (amended) has banned all forms of promotional activities.Display of attractive leaflets of cigarettes at sales points and tea stalls is one of the latest tactics of tobacco companies, he said adding the tobacco control law does not allow such types of advertisement campaign.Taifur said the “Tobacco Control Law 2005” had a number of loopholes that made it quite ineffective in playing strong role in controlling tobacco use and sales.Taking this into consideration, he said the government amended the tobacco control law in last year by incorporating a number of strong tobacco control provisions to make the law more effective.Citing different provisions of the amended tobacco control law, Project Coordinator of Work for Better Bangladesh (WBB) Aminul Islam Sujan said any forms of advertisement have been prohibited at point of sales in the law. But tobacco companies are carrying out promotional campaigns violating the law. The draft of tobacco control rules are not yet passed, he said. “The government deserves appreciation for amending the tobacco control law-2005. Now it is urgently needed to formulate the tobacco control rules to ensure effective enforcement of the amended tobacco control law.”