A group of citizens has urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to impose a temporary ban on the marketing and sale of all tobacco products during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect public health.
The list of 100 signatories, including economist Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, convener of National Anti-Tobacco Platform and National Prof Brig (retd) Abdul Malik, sent a letter to the PM, said a press release.
According to WHO, the use of tobacco increases the risk of coronavirus infection and also serious illness due to lung disease or reduced lung capacity, they said.
They mentioned in their letter that tobacco products also weaken the immune system, making it extremely vulnerable to coronavirus infection.
A number of countries including India, South Africa and Botswana have already taken this WHO warning very seriously and imposed temporary ban on the sale of all tobacco products, they added.
The eminent citizens including Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique, former vice-cChancellor of Dhaka University, emphasised utilising the global experience to effectively combat the spread of novel coronavirus.
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The letter also said, 37.8 million adults use tobacco products and 41 million people fall victim to secondhand smoke in their own homes in Bangladesh.
This people, victims of direct or indirect tobacco use, are currently at grave risk of severe coronavirus infection, they said.
They also said if the marketing and sale of tobacco products continue during this pandemic, it would create an additional pressure on the healthcare system, and eventually worsen the crisis.
Such move of urging for temporary tobacco marketing and sales ban was made possible by the joint efforts of anti-tobacco organisations including Bangladesh Cancer Society, BCCP, ACD, YPSA, Aid Foundation, Bangladesh Anti-Tobacco Alliance, BNTTP, BITA, Grambangla Unnayan Committee, NATAB, Prattashya, TCRC, National Heart Foundation, Dhaka Ahsania Mission, UFAT, TABINAJ, Voice, WBB Trust, Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) and PROGGA.