Prime Minister’s announcement to amend the Tobacco Control Act



Professor Dr. Md. Habibe Millat, Dhaka
Picture: barta24.com

Picture: barta24.com

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

Probably no other country has spoken out against tobacco. Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken up the challenge. She has announced to make the country tobacco free by 2040. She has taken the initiative to become the Prime Minister of a country that ranks eighth in the world in tobacco cultivation. Undoubtedly, this initiative of the Hon'ble Prime Minister to build a healthy nation is encouraging and inspiring for us. With her announcement, anti-tobacco activities in the country have gained momentum, the results of which have already begun to be seen.

In addition to success, some challenges have been created that will stand in the way of tobacco cessation. Since anti-tobacco activities are centered on the Tobacco Control Act, many initiatives are being hampered by inconsistencies in existing laws. In that case, in order to build a tobacco-free Bangladesh within the time announced by the Hon'ble Prime Minister, it is time to review some aspects of the existing Tobacco Control Act. That is why it is necessary to amend the law in this regard.

Bangladesh is one of the first countries to sign the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). After signing the FCTC, the present government amended the law in 2013 by removing various flaws in the old tobacco control law. Then in 2015 the rules of the Tobacco Control Act were passed. With the foresight of the Hon'ble Prime Minister, the FTCT has been included in the Seventh Five-Year Plan to meet the health targets of the SDGs. In continuation of which it has been possible to integrate tobacco control activities with the mainstream development. The result is like cheering. Compared to 2009, the number of tobacco users has decreased by 18.5 percent by 2016. On the other hand, the number of smokers has increased over the same period.

'Achieving Sustainable Development Goals' held in Dhaka on 30-31 January 2017; at the closing ceremony of the South Asian Speakers' Summit, the Prime Minister announced that the country would be completely tobacco free by 2040. In that announcement, he emphasized three things as a plan. The first is the adoption of a nationwide national tobacco control program. The second step is to take steps to adopt a strong tobacco tariff policy. And lastly, to take all necessary steps to implement the Tobacco Control Act and to bring the laws in line with the SDG implementation priorities and to bring the laws in line with the FCTC.

We last amended the Tobacco Control Act in 2013. The World Health Organization advised that the law be reviewed every five years. We have already passed that time. Over time, there have been some new inconsistencies in existing laws. Especially smoking on public transport; Smoking on sidewalks and restaurants; Exhibition of tobacco products at the point of sale; Selling cigarette butts; Etc. It is time to review the issues. Otherwise, the government's anti-tobacco programs will fail to yield promising results. Therefore, it is important to take initiative to amend the law in a short time.

In her speech, the Prime Minister mentioned the need to harmonize the FCTC in amending the law. Other anti-tobacco organizations, including the World Health Organization, have made six proposals to amend existing laws, all in the light of the FCTC. Our 152 Hon'ble Members of Parliament have made recommendations in this regard. We believe that if all these amendments are included, Bangladesh will go a long way towards becoming tobacco free. These proposals are, 1. Ensuring a 100% smoke-free environment by banning smoking in all public places, workplaces and public transport, including the abolition of designated places for smoking; 2. Prohibit the display of tobacco products at the place of sale; 3. A complete ban on the social responsibility program or CSR of tobacco companies; 4. Stop selling retail cigarettes or bidis; 5. Prohibit the import and sale of products such as C-Cigarettes and Heated Tobacco Products (HTP). Strict restrictions on the packaging of tobacco products, including increasing the size of illustrated health warnings.

Why did the Prime Minister announce the elimination of tobacco? Why did the promotion and spread of anti-tobacco activities increase in the country? The main reason for this is the damage caused by tobacco. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2016, 35.3% of people aged 15 and over use some form of tobacco. Males constitute 46% of the population and females 25.2%. 16% of adults smoke. 20.6% of people use smokeless tobacco. 7.9% of minors (13-15 years old) use some form of tobacco. Tobacco is a deadly product. In Bangladesh, 8% of the deaths per year are due to non-communicable diseases such as stroke, heart attack, cancer, diabetic, kidney disease etc. And the main cause of these non-communicable diseases is tobacco. According to the World Health Organization's 'Tobacco: Key Fact' 2016, smokers have a 57% higher risk of lung cancer and a 109% higher risk of tobacco-related cancer. According to a study by the US Department of Health and Human Services, in 2016, about 126,000 people died in Bangladesh due to tobacco; Which is 13.5% of the total deMore than 61,000 children are suffering from tobacco-related diseases due to secondhand smoke. Economic losses due to tobacco-related diseases and deaths are 1.4% of national GDP. According to the data of 2016, the amount in terms of money is 30 thousand 560 crore.

As the elected representatives of the people, we are working to ensure the health of all citizens. ‘Bangladesh Parliamentary Forum for Health and Wellbeing’ formed to ensure universal health care; The Parliamentary Forum is working on the implementation of Tobacco Free Bangladesh. Following this, a letter signed by 152 members of Parliament demanding amendment of the existing Tobacco Control Act has already been handed over to the Hon'ble Minister of Health on behalf of the Forum. The Health Minister applauded the initiative of so many members of the National Assembly, irrespective of their party affiliation. He assured that he would stand by and assist in all necessary initiatives to amend the existing tobacco control laws. We believe, this initiative of ours; Contribute to ensuring the health of millions of people. The Prime Minister's announcement will be helpful in implementation.

Author: Professor Dr. Md. Habibe Millat, MP, Founding Chairman, Health Protection Foundation.

Who will lead France for the next five years?



Dr Mahfuz Parvez
Macron and Le Pen Prepare for Showdown

Macron and Le Pen Prepare for Showdown

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

France on Saturday (April 23) prepared to choose between centrist President Emmanuel Macron and far-right challenger Marine Le Pen to rule the country for the next five years after a bitterly contested and polarising election campaign. By Sunday (April 24) evening, the world will know whether France has elected its first female leader, or the first two-term president since Jacques Chirac.

Considering the election processes, It’s looking like Emmanuel Macron is headed for victory; he holds a ten-point average lead in polls over his challenger, the far-right Marine Le Pen. That she is still within range of Macron, who trounced her by 30 percentage points in 2017, has Western capitals nervous that the French could swap an ardent EU supporter for one closer to Moscow than Brussels.

However, Undecided voters are one concern, with as many as 11 percent still yet to make up their minds. The supporters of the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon are another wildcard. The worry for Macron is not so much that they would go over to Le Pen, but that they simply won’t vote at all. Just under half of his first round voters don’t intend to cast a ballot on Sunday, but two-thirds of those who plan to vote say they’ll back Macron.

Michele Barbero, in a Paris dispatch for Foreign Policy Journal, spoke with one Mélenchon supporter who isn’t sure whether to vote on Sunday. “I feel disillusioned, desperate, and I have less and less confidence in politics to bring about more social justice,” she said.

As the election of Joe Biden in 2020 showed, a victory for a centrist candidate doesn’t magically de-polarize an electorate. So even a loss may not spell the end for Le Pen, who will be just 58 when the 2027 elections come around—and would no longer have to face Macron, who would be barred from serving a third consecutive term.

With Le Pen within arm’s reach of Macron, some world leaders have gotten off the fence. In a rare foray into French politics, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made the case for Macron in a Le Monde op-ed on Thursday. Sharing a byline with his left-leaning counterparts Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, the three men presented a choice between “a democratic candidate, who believes that France grows in a powerful EU. And a far-right candidate, who openly sides with those attacking our freedom and democracy.”

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former Brazilian President has also stated his support for Macron, describing the election as one where “the future of democracy” is at stake.

Although U.S. President Joe Biden has not publicly expressed his preference, his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama still might. The former president would be leaving it late; he already had backed Macron by this time in the 2017 election cycle.

Perhaps doing Le Pen a favor, given the distance she has tried to put between herself and the Russian leader during her campaign, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stayed silent. Her ideological allies in Hungary and Poland have too.

Imprisoned Russian dissident Alexei Navalny has also stumped for Macron—while skewering his opponent, saying on Twitter that any so-called conservative who is sympathetic to Putin “is actually just a hypocrite with no conscience.”

Barring a too-close-to-call election, exit polls should predict the winner by the time voting ends at 8 p.m. Paris time on Sunday.

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Political Science, University of Chittagong and Associate Editor, barta24.com

;

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room



Tazlina Zamila Khan
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

Our nation has reached a point where just walking down the street is the most risky and courageous undertaking that one can perform. Once you go out into the street, there is no assurance that you will be able to return to your loved ones. No matter what mode of transportation you choose, such as a bus or a car, you are not protected. I was taken aback when I received some news about one of my students. He and his mother were driving home from school like they often did when their car collided with a rickshaw, killing one of the passengers. The chauffeur was able to flee the scene very quickly, but my student's mother was gravely injured. It was a traumatic experience for such a young boy like him to see such an occurrence unfold in front of his own eyes. The person who died could have been anybody, and it might have been someone you know. Every day, the number of accidents increases, and the worth of human life decreases.

Sometimes it does remind me of one of the dialogues of Spiderman II --‘Uncle Ben was killed that night for being the only one who did the right thing’. Bangladeshi street scenes are similar to this in terms of situation. Even if you are driving safely and, in your lane, you may be involved in an accident due to the negligence of another driver. Thousands of Uncle Ben is Somebody else's careless behavior resulted in these people's death. To make a safer road, how much blood must be shed?

According to a news report of The Daily Star which stated the road accident rates increased by 30%. In addition to reckless driving, a lack of skilled drivers, mental and physical illness in drivers, insufficient benefits for drivers, slow vehicular movement on highways and youths riding carelessly on motorbikes, an ineffective traffic management system, and a lack of awareness among the general public are all factors contributing to traffic fatalities and injuries.

If the management is tight, however, all of these issues will not be addressed for some time. What annoys me the most is that in our nation, there is no consequence for individuals who are guilty for their actions on the road. The vast majority of the time, drivers escape after murdering someone. Every attempt is made to bring justice to the victim's family, but all of it is in vain.

With each victim who escapes, it sends a message to the whole society that "it is alright to murder someone since no one else will come to haunt you." This is very hazardous, and sadly, this is the reality of the situation in the country. As a result, accidents are happening on the other hand culprits are moving freely without being punished.

Despite the government's stated goal of reducing road accidents by 20-25 percent by 2024 and 50 percent by 2030, the number of accidents in the nation has continued to rise over the last few years.

When it comes to following the rules of the road, motorcycles have a particularly difficult time. They indicate that time is more important than human lives by rushing to the destination with the passengers. Every member of the family is affected by even a little accident. No matter how sympathetic or empathic you are to the victim's family, you will never be able to replace the gap left by the death of a spouse, a daughter, or a son. It's impossible to fathom the anguish and misery endured by the families affected by such tragedies.

Despite this, traffic accidents are still being referred to as the elephant in the room. As a matter of fact, it should have been dealt with and resolved much sooner had it been given more priority. In reality, though, it is steadily increasing. Why has it been put off for so long?

Road accidents are still a severe problem, despite the fact that our communication system has undergone a major shift. Adequate driving instruction is essential, and law enforcement authorities should be harsher with those who breach the rules. To illustrate that no one is above the law, the perpetrators of these crimes should be punished.

The writer is a faculty member of a private school

;

Japan, China and Asian Peace



Dr. Mahfuz Parvez
Japan, China and Asian Peace

Japan, China and Asian Peace

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease
Japan and China, two important countries in Asia, are also influential in regional and international politics. These two countries can play a leading role in peace and development in Asia. Although their pasts are conflicting, their peaceful alliance is essential to world reality. Especially for Asia-Pacific peace, it is essential that the two countries come together.

Considering the important position of two countries, researchers have worked on the positive aspects of the friendly role of Japan and China. As they look to the past and the present, some researchers have raised hopes for the future. Ezra Feivel Vogel was an one of them.

Ezra Feivel Vogel, (Born: July 11, 1930, Delaware, Ohio, United States, Died: December 20, 2020, Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States) was an American sociologist who wrote prolifically on modern Japan, China, and Korea, and worked both in academia and the public sphere. He was Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and the author of a masterpiece titled China and Japan: Facing History, published in 2019 just before his death.

According to Ezra Feivel Voge, China and Japan have cultural and political connections that stretch back fifteen hundred years. But today their relationship is strained. China’s military buildup deeply worries Japan, while Japan’s brutal occupation of China in World War II remains an open wound. In recent years less than ten percent of each population had positive feelings toward the other, and both countries insist that the other side must deal openly with its history before relations can improve.

From the sixth century, when the Japanese adopted core elements of Chinese civilization, to the late twentieth century, when China looked to Japan for a path to capitalism, Ezra Vogel’s book examined key turning points in Sino–Japanese history. Throughout much of their past, the two countries maintained deep cultural ties, but China, with its great civilization and resources, had the upper hand. Japan’s success in modernizing in the nineteenth century and its victory in the 1895 Sino–Japanese War changed the dynamic, putting Japan in the dominant position. The bitter legacy of World War II has made cooperation difficult, despite efforts to promote trade and, more recently, tourism.

Vogel underscored the need for Japan to offer a thorough apology for the war, but he also urged China to recognize Japan as a potential vital partner in the region. He argued that for the sake of a stable world order, these two Asian giants must reset their relationship, starting with their common interests in environmental protection, disaster relief, global economic development, and scientific research.

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh and Associate Editor, www.barta24.com.
;

Our victory: our pride



Syed Iftekhar
photo: Barta24.com

photo: Barta24.com

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

In the 21st century, technology is a crucial factor for economic development. Bangladesh is not left behind, the current time the region is part of the global community. The country embarked on a long way since the declaration of independence in 1971.

Nowadays, Bangladesh turns 50 years. Digital Bangladesh is developing swiftly with this momentum that will lead the territory into achieving its future goals. Meanwhile, the region has commenced the journey towards Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's 'Sonar Bangla' through this massive triumph.

Here and now, Bangladesh is making an impressive leap on the Earth as our situation has dramatically improved. The world leaders have even noticed our successful transformation. Consequently, Bangladesh has ranked the fastest-growing economies in the world. From 1971 to 2021, Bangladesh ameliorated enormously; our food safety has significantly improved, poverty is also declining.

On the other hand, the private sector has expanded at an astonishing rate. Although there are still some sectors Bangladesh needs to address. We need to do major works more efficiently at present to secure an ample future. In this case, the present government is striving. As conscious citizens of this country, we have individual responsibility too.

However, as a firm citizen, I also have a gigantic dream. A dream for a better life, prosperous life. It is not just a conception. This would happen soon. I am immensely hopeful because without hope this country could not be created. Further, we could not overcome several obstacles as well as challenges. Nonetheless, the rigorous reality is hopes are not well enough. We must make a noteworthy endeavor to turn them into reality, thus, we can go far.

;