Sale of tobacco products near schools and playgrounds is continuing in full swing in different parts of the country, mostly to attract children to consume those, finds a recent study.
The government prohibited selling tobacco products, such as cigarette, bidi and gul, to persons under 18 and set a target to make Bangladesh tobacco-free by 2040, but allowing such an activity will hinder the progress, it added.
Dhaka Ahsania Mission in association with Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an international anti-tobacco organisation, conducted the study in 12 districts, including all divisional cities, in December 2017.
The findings of the study titled “Big Tobacco Tiny Target in Bangladesh” were unveiled at a discussion held at the Mission’s office in the capital yesterday.
After surveying 180 locations -- including 157 schools and 23 playgrounds in those districts -- the study identified 673 spots within 100 metres of those locations where tobacco products [both smoking and smokeless] were being sold.
Of those sales points, more than 82 percent displayed advertisements of the products through stickers, empty packets, and posters -- violating existing laws.
More than half of the sales points were set up adjacent to products that are popular among children, such as candy, chocolate, and toys, said the report.
Besides, tobacco companies often give discounts and offer gifts for buying their products, which further attracts children, it added.
As selling tobacco products near schools and playgrounds is not banned according to the tobacco control act, the study suggested that the government amend the law for children’s wellbeing.
Asked about the delay in publishing the study report, Mokhlesur Rahman, one of the lead researchers, said the data they collected was verified multiple times and it was analysed by the Campaign authorities, causing the delay.
“We revisited some of the locations this year and found almost the same situation in most of the cases,” said Mokhlesur, also an assistant director of Ahsania Mission.
Speaking as the chief guest at the discussion, Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury, deputy minister for education, assured that they will take necessary steps to stop selling tobacco products adjacent to educational institutions.