Bangladesh, with other countries across the world, is going to observe the ‘World No Tobacco Day’ on Sunday.
The day is going to be observed focusing on “protecting youth from industry manipulation and preventing them from tobacco and nicotine use”.
For decades, the tobacco industry has deliberately employed strategic, aggressive and well-resourced tactics to attract the youth to tobacco and nicotine products.
Tobacco causes 8 million deaths worldwide. In Bangladesh alone, tobacco-related illness claims 126,000 lives a year, said a press release from PROGGA.
Tobacco and related industries use sleek designs, innovative and flavoured tobacco products, like cherry, bubble gum and cotton candy targeting the children, adolescents and youths, the statement said.
PROGGA said that to attract teenagers and the youth and transform them into future loyal customers, tobacco companies spend $9 billion a year.
According to US Surgeon General Report 2014, nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking by age 18.
Teens who smoke are three times more likely than nonsmokers to use alcohol, eight times more likely to use marijuana, and 22 times more likely to use cocaine, the release said.
“So, tobacco and nicotine addiction is not an addiction on its own; it is a gateway to other more devastating realms of addictions,” PROGGA said.
ABM Zubair, executive director, PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress), said 49 percent of the total population of Bangladesh is youth- aged 24 years or below.
It makes Bangladesh susceptible to the greedy prying eyes of tobacco industry who wants to expand its business and profits by hooking as many youths as possible to the deadly addiction that it sells, he added.
Meanwhile, experts and health professionals have already warned that the use of tobacco increases the risk of coronavirus infection and also the risk of serious illness once infected.
During this pandemic, to save lives and protect public health, and also facilitate transformation towards a tobacco-free future within 2040, the government must take strict measures to end all manipulation tactics of tobacco companies.