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Survey: Sale of tobacco rampant near schools, playgrounds in Chittagong

  • Published at 08:01 pm May 26th, 2019
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The findings of the research titled 'Big Tobacco Tiny Target: Bangladesh,' were revealed at a press conference at Chittagong Press Club on Sunday, May 26, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

The survey was conducted at 157 schools and 23 playgrounds in eight divisional cities of the country in December 2017

Sale of tobacco products is going on unabated near 90% of schools and playgrounds in different parts of divisional cities across the country, a recent survey has revealed.

The findings of the survey, titled “Big Tobacco Tiny Target: Bangladesh,” were revealed at a press conference at Chittagong Press Club on Sunday.

Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), ACD National Heart Foundation, and Unnoyan Bikplper Niti Nirdharny Gobeshona (UNIBIG) jointly conducted the survey, in association with Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an international anti-tobacco organization.

Moderated by Md Omar Shahed, program officer of YPSA, the report was presented by YPSA Deputy Director Nasim Banu.

According to the survey, at least six sale centres of tobacco products were found within 100 metres of every educational institution and playground in Chittagong division.

The survey was conducted at 157 schools and 23 playgrounds in eight divisional cities of the country in December 2017.

In Chittagong division, a total of 40 playgrounds and schools were surveyed, including 20 in Chittagong, 11 in Cox's Bazar, and nine in Rangamati districts.

The survey identified 90 percent of tobacco sale points within 100 metres of schools and playgrounds, while 96 percent advertisements of tobacco products were displayed through stickers, packets, and posters -- violating existing laws. 

According to Smoking and Usage of Tobacco Products (Control) Act, selling, advertisements, and promotion of tobacco products at any store are prohibited. 

Violators of the law can be jailed for up to three months, or fined Tk1 lakh, or both. 

Sale spots identified

In 77% of tobacco sale points, tobacco products were displayed within one metre of children's eye level, while 33% of the sale points were set up next to products that are popular among children, such as chocolates, candy, toys and sweets. 

In 5% sale points, promotional activities were observed to boost sale of tobacco products, the survey revealed.

Recommendations

The survey made some recommendations that include: sale of tobacco products within 100 metres of schools and playgrounds be banned and existing rules be amended, if necessary; banning sale of single sticks of cigarette; bringing tobacco sellers within the legal framework; and taking effective steps to check display, promotional activity and advertisement of tobacco products at sale points.

Bangladesh is the eighth largest cigarette market in the world, with volumes exceeding 86 billion units and growing by 2 percent every year.

According to PROGGA, a leading anti-tobacco group, tobacco kills over 162,100 people in the country every year, while the financial loss from tobacco use is around Tk158.6 billion annually.

Smoking causes cancer, stroke, cardiovascular and respiratory problems, among other serious diseases.