Smoking at restaurants, one of the major public places, still continues in different parts of the country although it is prohibited by the existing tobacco control law, finds a recent survey.
The situation has improved significantly in recent times compared to that of the previous years, but the improvement could have been better if restaurant owners were made aware and law violators punished, the survey adds.
Dhaka Ahsania Mission came up with the findings after surveying 372 restaurants in 16 districts.
The survey was carried out between April 2018 and March 2019 to observe the implementation of Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) Act at the restaurants.
The findings were unveiled at a discussion organised by the Mission at its Dhaka office yesterday.
According to the survey, about 61 percent of restaurant owners are aware of the act. Of them, around 7.5 percent violate it by allowing their customers to smoke.
The owners violate the law in fear of losing customers. They are also afraid to forbid influential people to smoke as they fear it may harm their business, said Iqbal Masud, the lead researcher, while presenting the findings.
But allowing people to smoke at the restaurants reduce the overall number of customers, which the owners fail to understand, said Iqbal, head of the health sector at Ahsania Mission.
Syed Mahbubul Alam, a technical advisor of The Union, an international voluntary organisation, said when the tobacco control law was formulated in 2005, only a few restaurants followed it. But the situation has changed significantly in recent years. To keep up the progress, he suggested the government take strict measures against restaurants which “promote smoking” through setting up smoking zones.