Anti-tobacco activists have demanded immediate lawful implementation of the graphic health warning (GHW) on packets of tobacco products.
The legal implementation of GHW is at stake due to the interference of tobacco companies, they told a human chain programme in front of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) at 11.00am in the city on Thursday.
The human chain event was jointly organised by National Heart Foundation, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, ACD, YPSA, Protyasha, AID Foundation, UBINIG, WBB Trust, BCCP, TCRC, and PROGGA, reports UNB.
Helal Ahmed of Protyasha, Syeda Ananyanna Rahman of WBB Trust, Aminul Islam Bokul of AID Foundation, Shahida Akhter of TABINAJ, Mohammad Bojlur Rahman of TCRC and Nazmul Haider of YPSA, among others, spoke at the event.
The speakers alleged that Bangladesh Cigarette Manufacturers’ Association (BCMA) has issued a letter to the NBR opposing the public circular from the National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC) which ordered printing GHW on 50 percent upper space of all sorts of tobacco packets and containers from September 19 next compulsorily.
The BCMA has also pleaded to print GHW on the current position (lower 50 percent space) with the excuse of using band rolls, they said, adding that BCMA manipulated NBR last year by threading with reduced revenue for the government and it appears that it will do the similar this year.
The cigarette company owners and senior officials recently had a closed-door meeting with Finance Minister AMA Muhith where Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and NBR Chairman Nozibur Rahman and other senior government officials concerned were present.
Besides, the NBR arranged a meeting with the representatives of cigarette companies and the officials of Law Ministry, Health Ministry and NTCC on Thursday afternoon.
As per the FCTC Article 5.3, the anti-tobacco campaigners said, there is no scope to discuss with tobacco companies regarding implementation of any tobacco control policies.
They said the band rolls could be used on the sidelines of tobacco packets and containers instead of using them on the back and front parts, which will help implement the stamp or band roll directives of 2017 and simultaneously will implement the law of 2013 and rule of 2015 to sustain the GHW on the upper 50 percent space of the packets without hampering the band rolls.
Later, a team of anti-tobacco campaigners submitted the memorandum to NBR chairman Nozibur Rahman.