Declaring Bangladesh Secretariat a smoke-free zone, the Cabinet Division has asked the secretaries of all the ministries to make sure that no one smokes in the country's administrative hub.
The division recently sent copies of a letter to all the secretaries, asking them to implement the directive issued following a request made by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry.
As a part of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's announced intention to bring tobacco consumption down to zero by 2040, Health Services Division Secretary Serajul Huq Khan made the request in a letter sent to Cabinet Secretary M Shafiul Alam on October 2.
Talking to UNB on Monday, Serajul said the Cabinet Division in response to their request issued a letter asking all the secretaries to keep the Secretariat free from smoking.
"It's possible to make the Secretariat smoke-free if all the secretaries take effective measures as per the directive of the cabinet secretary," he said.
The health services division secretary also mentioned that the National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC) under the Health Ministry is working to cut the consumption of tobacco further.
He said smoking will be eliminated from all the offices if the Secretariat effectively implements the tobacco control law.
In the letter, the Health Ministry had asked the cabinet secretary to declare the Secretariat a smoke-free area, for directives to all ministries to ensure a smoke-free atmosphere in all subordinate offices, the hanging of warning notices, a ban on the sale of tobacco products inside the Secretariat and a strengthening of mobile court drives.
Citing the “Global Adult Tobacco Survey- 2009”, the letter mentioned that at least 43.3% population of the country use tobacco products, and Bangladesh is among the top tobacco-consuming countries in the world.
Every year, the consumption of tobacco kills 57,000 people and cripples 382,000 others, while another 42 million people fall victim to passive smoking.
The letter also said the government had enacted the Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) Act 2005, which was amended in 2013.
The letter added that the rules and regulations were formulated in 2015 and tobacco control taskforces had been set up at the national, district and upazila levels for implementation of the law, and said the law was not being implemented properly due to a lack of the necessary directives from the authorities concerned.