Control of the use of Smokeless tobacco (SLT) products has not been focused enough as a priority at national and international level. On global scenario, there are about 300 million SLT users in 70 countries, among them 89% are in India. India and Bangladesh make up 80% of the smokeless tobacco users of the world. The Tobacco control movement is more concentrated on “smoke-Free” rather than ‘tobacco free’ which may include both smoke and smokeless products.
The inclusion of inclusion of smokeless tobacco products such as Jarda, Sada-pata and Gul in the definition of Tobacco in the amended Law (2013) is a step forward in the Tobacco control movement. However, because of social and cultural acceptability of the open use of Jarda, sadapata with betel leaf unlike smokers, it is difficult to catch hold of each of the smokeless tobacco products users. But to start with, TABINAJ members can play a significant role in reducing the selling of the SLT through implementation of the Law at the sub-national level such as districts and upazilas. Besides, they will continue to convince the betel leaf users to keep away from SLT products on health grounds.
A day-long training Workshop on the ‘Role of TABINAJ for Controlling the use of Smokeless Tobacco Products’ was organized by Tamak Birodhi Nari Jote (TABINAJ) on 12 August, 2015 at KIB Complex, with participation of TABINAJ members from 40 districts.
Roksana Kader, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was present as the Chief Guest. Farida Akhter, Executive Director UBINIG and Convener TABINAJ chaired the Workshop. Shima Das Shimu, Director, UBINIG welcomed the participants. Sayyida Akhter, Coordinator TABINAJ and Prabartana presented in a power point the different aspects of law that can be used for taking actions by Tabinaj members to facilitate the Law enforcing agencies. Alamgir Sikder, Programme officer, National Tobacco Control Cell described in details the implementation aspects of the Law, especially on Task force meetings, Mobile Courts etc. Other speakers included Advocate Rehana Sultana, a member of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association and lawyer at Bangladesh Supreme Court and Associate Professor Dr. Sohel Reza Chowdhury, National Heart Foundation. It was a strategic decision to invite the national level BNWLA member because they have network of membership all over Bangladesh.
Alamgir Sikder, NTCC
Mobile court is a strategy for implementation of law. Mobile court cannot be commissioned all the time. It can only be organized when there is violation of law. There is need of planned effort for commissioning mobile court, cooperation of the law enforcing authority, a transport with fuel, lawyer, journalist and members of civil society. Civil Surgeon is informed through correspondence from the Tobacco control cell about mobile court.
The tobacco companies have been following new strategies all the time. Accordingly there is need of legal actions in order to stopping such loop holes. TABINAJ can raise the issue of smokeless tobacco in the district and upazila level task force meetings. TABINAJ can also maintain regular communication with the District Administration and the civil surgeon for cooperation in organizing mobile court. Public awareness can be created through involvement of the members of the civil society through participation in the meetings and other events.
Advocate Rehana Sultana, Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association [BNWLA]
There are offices of the Bangladesh Mahila Ainjibi Samity in each and every district and there are women member lawyers as well. TABINAJ members can jointly work there for controlling the use of smokeless tobacco products. They can cooperate up to the court on the issues of implementation of smoking and use of smokeless tobacco (control) Act 2005 (Amendment 2013), Article-5. The Bangladesh Mahila Ainjibi Samity and TABINAJ can work hand in hand for addressing the entire tobacco related issues. The Bangladesh Mahila Ainjibi Samity will issue send out letters to the members of district offices to cooperating with TABINAJ. This will create scope for working with the women lawyers.
Prof. Dr. Sohel Reza Chowdhury
There is wide spread use of jarda and gul in this sub-continent. More people are facing death due to non-communicable diseases in Bangladesh. Among the diseases, cancer is at the top. Oral cancer is more prevalent in Bangladesh and India. So long, it was known that intake of jarda with betel leaf was harmful. Now it has been reported through research that intake of betel-nut also causes cancer. Now it is a challenge for us to ensure good health for people. There is a need of educated mother in each family. Family is the primary seat of learning. Non-government organizations should come forward along with the government for checking the spread of non-communicable diseases in the society.
Roksana Kader, Chief Guest
Women have to take care of all members in the society starting from the family. It is a fact that an educated mother can ensure a healthy family. Every girl child must be given proper education. It is appreciable that TABINAJ has been working for creating awareness among women for stopping the use of smokeless tobacco in the community centers through the Directorate of Women Affairs. Smokeless tobacco has been covered in four articles out of 19 articles of the Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (control) Act 2005 (amendment 2013). A few other articles would have been incorporated in the Act regarding smokeless tobacco if TABINAJ were there at the time of enacting the Act. I was there at the time of enacting the Act. I have observed in the Ministry that there is signage about ‘smoking free area’ but there is no signage regarding smokeless tobacco. I will try my best for incorporating the smokeless tobacco in the law. It is clearly mentioned for posting pictorial warning on hazards of tobacco on the body of the containers of smokeless tobacco products. The Act is supposed to be in force from March 2016. The issue of smokeless tobacco may be raised in the District Task Force, discuss through the imams of mosque and mobile courts.
Laila Kaniz Banu, Executive Director, Rural Development Association, Magura and Jinnat Rahman, Executive Director, RDCA, Dinajpur highlighted their role of TABINAJ members in the Task Force Meetings. They however expressed concerns that about the irregular meetings of Task Force.
Wadud Rahman Imon, Program Officer, Ahsania Mission; Farhana Huque Ovi, Advocacy Officer, Emiroment Council Bangladesh; Monwar Hossain, Tobacco Industry Monitoring Expert, Progga; Maksud Ullah, Project Coordinator, ECLAB; Syeda Ananya Rahman, Advocacy Officer, Work For Better Bangladesh Trust and Selina Akhter, Program Support Officer, Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids [CTFK] participated in the open discussion and shared experiences for controlling the use of tobacco products.
Group Discussion for Step forward
Tabinaj members attended the training session to know the strategies for taking actions for implementation of the Law in the context of Smokeless Tobacco. Five groups were formed for discussing the provisions under the amended law as well as the Rules which could be applied for controlling SLTs. In addition, Tabinaj members needed to be part of the district and upazilla Task Force bodies, know about the Authorized Officers and how to facilitate Mobile Courts.
The following decisions came out of the Group discussions as an Action Plan:
- Tabinaj members who are not yet included in the Task Force should try to get Co-opted into the Task Force.
- Hold meetings with the Authorised Officers in their respective areas and discuss about the provisions in the Rules for Law Implementation, particularly those related to TAPS and sell to and by Minors.
- Tabinaj members will try to facilitate 30 Mobile Courts on violations related to Smokeless Tobacco (SLT) with cooperation of the administration.
- Use the Format prepared by National Tobacco Control Cell (NTCC) for reporting on Taskforce meetings and Mobile Courts.
- Tabinaj will work in collaboration with other BI partners in the areas where they are active.