A mobile court in Dhaka has fined superstores Swapna and Big-Bazar for violating recently passed tobacco control law, in the first such punishment after bringing the landmark amendment.
Magistrate Sarah Sadia Tajnin fined a Swapna outlet at Wari Tk 30,000, Big Bazar, also at Wari, Tk 20,000 and another shop Alam Store at Dhanmondi Tk 5,000 for their advertisement of cigarettes at the point of sale.
Dhaka Ahsania Mission that provides technical support to the Dhaka district administration for conducting mobile courts said one of the Meena Bazaar’s Dhanmondi outlets removed their advertisements displaying cigarette packets sensing the mobile court on Thursday.
Anti-tobacco activists hailed the drive and said it would send the message across that a stringent tobacco control law was in place.
Parliament amended the 2005 law on April 29 and published gazette on May 2 with immediate enforcement of the law except some provisions that needed further rules for clarifications.
The landmark law which will introduce pictorial warnings in tobacco packs banned with immediate effect all sorts of tobacco advertisements including at the point of sale and sponsorships of the industries using their names.
The amended law also brought culturally accepted smokeless tobacco like gul, jarda into its definition considering its deadly health hazards and imposed similar ban like on bidis or cigarettes.
Penalties have been increased for individual violation of smoking at defined public places to Tk 300 from Tk 50 with a provision of doubling the fine for repeat offence.
Companies as well as businesses can be fined up to Tk 100,000 for violating the sections of advertisement, promotion and sponsorships.
Taifur Rahman, coordinator of the US-based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, hailed the mobile court drive.
“It’ll have an impact on tobacco advertising,” he told bdnews24.com and added that industries used to use point of sale for advertising their products when they were banned to advertise on media in the 2005 law.
“They (companies) decorated thousands of stores with their brands,” he said.
The government amended the law against the backdrop of the growing use of tobacco in Bangladesh where study showed more than 43 percent adults either smoke or chew tobacco.
The only legal product that kills people, tobacco is also linked to about 57,000 deaths in Bangladesh, WHO says, with additional over 350,000 people suffering from various ailments, costs of that treatment are double than the revenue government earns from industries.
Md Amin Ul Ahsan, Project Manager of the health ministry’s National Tobacco Control Cell, told bdnews24.com that they would soon turn into ‘a permanent set-up’ with necessary manpower and technologies to monitor and implement the law.
“The law speaks about a dedicated cell for its implementation,” he said and added that head of the government and corporate offices must have to take measures to keep their offices smoke-free following the law.
Otherwise, they will also be fined as per law, he said.
Source: Bd news24