“You can't make this stuff up,” says Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’s Charles Gardner, PhD. “The Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids makes this stuff up.”
Association Vapers India commented: “They're going to countries which need tobacco harm reduction the most and getting safer alternatives banned. What kind of a killing spree is that?”
The comments relate to a press conference in Dhaka called by CTFK. Flanked by other organisations benefitting from Bloomberg dollar handouts, speakers announced that something had to be done about tobacco products becoming cheaper – and included vaping in that statement. They said that this runs contrary to government aims of reducing tobacco use.
CTFK called for a doubling of the health development surcharge on tobacco products (from 1 to 2%), in addition to maintaining the current level of taxation on cigarettes, and the outright ban of all vaping products.
Ignoring any impact on smoking rates, the organisers raised fears about a growth in vaping, especially in the younger generation.
Md Hsan Shahriar, a tobacco control project coordinator for PROGGA, said: “E-cigarettes are expanding fast in almost 26 countries including Bangladesh. Before it grows to an intolerable level, policy actions are needed to ban the e-cigarettes.”
PROGGA states on its website that it “worships knowledge”. Attendees at the press conference might have wondered if it was Opposite Day.
Then Dr. Mahfuz Kabir, a research director for the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies, was wheeled out. He declared that the government should adopt his 11-Point program to rope manufacturers of all smoke-free products into the current tax system, classify them as tobacco products, and impose existing tobacco regulations on them.
He also advocated for banning the production, importation, and marketing of vape and heated-tobacco products. Of course none of this has anything to do with tobacco controllers stating that such measures would “ensure increased revenue”.
Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said: “We have been pushing for an overhaul of tobacco taxation system for a long time. The National Board of Revenue and other policymakers often express their consent and solidarity with us. However, the reality often does not reflect their willingness. We should increase awareness among people properly and alert youths.”
Nazneen Ahmed emphasised the reliance on the old, failing method of tobacco control through punitive taxation when she said: “An effective increase in the price of tobacco products will discourage anyone to start using tobacco.”
Dr Nasiruddin Ahmed summed up the woeful lack of judgement being presented at the press conference when he opined: “Poor people do not care about health.”