BATB violating tobacco law

Anti-tobacco activists claim
A tripod is set up for filming in front of a store with a brand-new point of sale in Lalmatia. Below, A leaflet from the health ministry saying advertisements or publicity of tobacco products anywhere, including points of sale, is prohibited by law. Photo: Collected

British American Tobacco (BAT) Bangladesh apparently conducted promotional activities for one of its new products in Dhaka's Lalmatia area yesterday, defying the country's tobacco control act.

A group of 10-15 representatives of BAT Bangladesh set up a decorated point of sale, containing packs of the company's new cigarette, at a departmental store in block D of Lalmatia around 11:00am.

They also displayed branding of the cigarette and documented all their activities using a camera, an anti-tobacco activist [wishing to remain anonymous] who was present at the spot, told The Daily Star.

“They came to the area around 10:30am with a vehicle, which carried a number of such points of sale. They set up a point of sale at the store and recorded a video. They left the place around 1:00pm,” he said.

“I secretly took some photos of their activities with my phone. I didn't interact with them, fearing attack, as I had such experience before,” said the activist of Bangladesh Tamak Birodhi Jote, an alliance of anti-tobacco organisations.

Following the incident, Tamak Birodhi Jote issued a press release, in which it condemned such promotional activities and claimed that BAT Bangladesh has violated the existing tobacco control act.

Setting up a point of sale decorated with packs of cigarettes is prohibited according to section-5 of Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) Act of the country, Syeda Anonna Rahman, a programme manager of WBB Trust, told The Daily Star.

WBB Trust is one of the leading organisations of Tamak Birodhi Jote.

“The tobacco companies are currently conducting their promotional activities in various ways in Dhaka and other districts. This was one of the examples. They mostly do such activities through their dealers,” said Anonna.

Contacted, Mehnaz Kabir, spokesperson of BAT Bangladesh, claimed that they always adhere to the tobacco control act.

She claimed that a photo shoot was conducted for internal training purposes, and no promotional activities took place.


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