Tobacco companies using loopholes to promote products
Taking advantage of loopholes in the law, tobacco companies are providing materials to vendors in different formats to promote their products, according to a recent survey.
Voices for Interactive Choice and Empowerment (VOICE), a rights-based research and advocacy platform, organised a meeting yesterday to disseminate the findings of its study with National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
"Tobacco companies take advantage of a provision which does not specifically mention a ban on displaying products at retail shops," said Zayed Siddiki, project coordinator of VOICE, in his keynote speech.
He said the companies strategically pressurise vendors to display advertisement and promotional materials. Financial and non-cash incentives are provided at all levels of distribution.
Promotional materials include stickers, posters, branded lighters, stands displaying
cigarette packets, and small cigarette cases.
Kazi Zebunnessa Begum, additional secretary and programme director at NTCC, said the health ministry is working on strengthening the tobacco control law.
Dr Md Shahadat Hossain Mahmud, director general (health economics unit) of NTCC, and Khondokar Zakir Hossain, additional secretary and coordinator; Mostafizur Rahman, lead policy advisor of The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; and Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE, were present at the event.