Experts have stressed the need for incorporating Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) strategy to achieve a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040.
They urged policymakers to establish safer alternatives such as vaping products as smoking cessation mediums in government’s tobacco control plans like progressive nations around the world.
Experts at a panel discussion marking World Vape Day 2022 at a hotel in Dhaka on Saturday, May 28, 2022 Dhaka Tribune
They made the call at a panel discussion titled “The Need for a Tobacco Harm Reduction Strategy: Achieving the Government’s Health Agenda and Revenue Ambitions” to mark World Vape Day 2022.
The event was organized by Voice of Vapers Bangladesh at a hotel in Dhaka on Saturday.
Dr Delon Human, president of Health Diplomats, said: “I believe Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina envisions a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040. But to achieve this, there needs to be a credible harm reduction strategy as practised by many developed countries.”
“The authorities must consider regulating safer alternatives such as vaping and make them accessible to smokers wanting to quit. Set quality parameters, regulate it like any other industry and promote it as a cessation tool,” he added.
Dr Altamash Mahmood, core faculty member of Public Health Nutrition at Bangladesh Open University, reiterated how vaping is established as a cessation tool and a safer alternative to smoking.
“Cigarettes are harmful, but nicotine is not. This is because smoking involves combustion that creates tar and other toxicants. Vaping on the other hand only heats the liquid to create vapour to deliver nicotine. Moreover, vaping does not induce second-hand smoking,” he said.
Altamash mentioned that most nations seek public health advocacy from Public Health England and according to them, vaping is 95% safer than smoking cigarettes.
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“This is why the UK government has an independent chapter on safer alternatives in their tobacco control plan with the National Health Service of UK (NHS) prescribing vaping as efficient cessation tools. According to the Consumer Choice Center in the US, about 6.2 million smokers will take up vaping if Bangladesh regulates the industry,” he observed.
Schumann Zaman, president of Bangladesh Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems Traders Association (BENDSTA), talked about how vaping can help the government achieve its health agenda along with its revenue ambitions.
He said: “We need to capitalize on this by regulating the vaping industry, ensuring that the right product brought through the right channel is made accessible. This can only be achieved if a THR strategy is adopted curated for adult smokers looking to quit, along with the enactment of sensible regulations.”
Apart from the panel discussion, a “Vapecon” was organized.
About 5,000 vapers signed a petition to protect their right to vape.