World No Tobacco Day today
Unregulated sales of tobacco products continue
Unregulated sales of tobacco and related products across South Asian countries continues to serve as a barrier to stop tobacco consumption, especially among the young generation.
Although the Bangladesh government had successfully reduced nearly eight percent tobacco consumption in last eight years through anti-tobacco initiatives, the number of tobacco use still remains high in the country.
In Bangladesh, more than 22 million people smoke, majority of them are males. Though the number of women smokers remain low, 18.7 million women use other kinds of tobacco-related products, such as Zarda and Gul, and are at risk of lungs cancer and various heart related diseases.
Currently, around 43.3 percent of the total adult population (4.13 crore) are consumers of tobacco in Bangladesh.
With numerous health hazards and complexities, tobacco use is much responsible for heart related diseases, especially for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).
Public health experts say tobacco is one of the major contributors of heart diseases. It contains nicotine and other 7000 chemical agents that facilitate deposit of plaque of blood vessel and damages health. Even second-hand smoking can increase the risk of heart diseases by 30 percent.
The Bangladesh Parliament passed the Tobacco Control Law Amendment Bill on 29 April 2013, closing many loopholes in the country’s previous tobacco control law.
According to the law, restaurants and indoor workplaces have now been included along with public places as "No Smoking Areas'. Fines for non-compliance with smoke-free regulations have increased from Tk50 to Tk300.
In addition, 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 films.
Besides, graphic health warnings are to be printed on tobacco packs that cover at least 50% of each principal surface area.
But it is a matter of regret that the law is still inoperative in the country.
The 2016 Tobacco Atlas shows that 25.54% more men die in Bangladesh than on average in medium-HDI countries due to tobacco consumption.
“Smoking and other use of tobacco intake cause throat and lung cancer, respiratory problems, stroke, various heart complexities, harms to the fetus and more,” Dr Dipal Krinshna Adhikary, assistant professor of cardiology department of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said while talking to Bangladesh Post
“A smoker is twice more like to have heart disease than a non-smoker. In contrast, second-hand smoking or indirect smoking has also possibility to be affected in heart diseases.”
Low or middle-income households face immense financial crisis to bear the expenses of heart diseases treatment, he added.
“Heart disease makes people lose their capabilities. It is very expensive and complex to treat these diseases.”
The prevalence of tobacco cause heart disease particularly among the youth in Bangladesh is alarming.
More than 43 percent of the population above 15 years of age used tobacco in Bangladesh last year and tobacco consumption caused as many as 1.6 lakh deaths in the county in 2016, revealed a study from a Washington-based independent population health research center, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).
During 2005 to 2016, heart diseases raised itself from 7th position to 1st position in the list of causes behind premature deaths. Smoking contributes to 30% of all heart disease deaths.
Prof Dr Afzalur Rahaman, director of National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases told this correspondent, “In our hospital, those who get admitted for schematic heart disease are often around 40 years old or even younger than that. Smoking or tobacco use is often one of the major causes behind their tragic critical condition.”
World Health Organization(WHO)estimates the global tobacco epidemic kills more than 7 million people each year, of them nearly nine lakh are non-smokers who die just from breathing second-hand smoke.
The CVDs contribute to 31 percent of total deaths worldwide while tobacco consumption is responsible for 12 percent of these deaths, WHO report shows.
Meanwhile, since 1987, WHO and its associates have been observing World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) on May 31, highlighting the health and other risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.
The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2018 is "Tobacco and Heart Disease." The main aims of World No Tobacco Day this year are to highlight the links between the use of tobacco products and heart and other cardiovascular diseases, increase awareness of impact of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke, provide opportunities for the public, governments and others to make commitments to promote heart health by protecting people from use of tobacco products.
In addition, to encourage countries to strengthen implementation of the proven MPOWER tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC is one of the main visions of the day.
WHO national professional officer Dr sayed Mahfuzul Haq, said “One-third of the people, who die every year in Bangladesh, ssdie from cardiovascular diseases. This is around 278,000 deaths per year.”
“Tobacco use in responsible for one-fourth of this total death.”
“So it is very important to increase the price of tobacco products through effective taxation and to amend our existing tobacco control law to meet the needs of time”, he added.