'India rejects FDI in tobacco, BD needs to follow suit' -The Asian Age

A leading global tobacco company, Japan Tobacco Inc (JT) tried for six years to enter into the Indian market but India denied accepting the foreign direct investment (FDI) in tobacco sector and Bangladesh should also refuse the FDI, said ruling party lawmaker Saber Hossain Chowdhury on Wednesday.

Speaking at a tobacco study report presentation program in the city, Saber Hossain Chowdhury, also the Honorary President of Inter-Parliamentary Union, decried Bangladesh's accepting FDI in tobacco sector noting that not all FDI brings good for a country. It is not possible to build up a tobacco free Bangladesh keeping tobacco industry as a profitable business, said the lawmaker. 

The single largest FDI in Bangladesh's private sector was revealed in early last month JT said that it had agreed to purchase Akij Group's tobacco business for $1.5 billion. The acquisition marks an aggressive push by the Japanese company into new markets as sales of its products in developed countries are shrinking as more people quit smoking.

Presenting a study carried out on 10 Asian countries including Bangladesh, Anti-tobacco campaigners PROGGA and Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) said, Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries where tobacco industry interferes most in policy development and implementation.

They presented the study while launching a report on implementation of the WHO Framework Convention in Tobacco Control (FCTC) Article 5.3 at CIRDAP auditorium in the city yesterday.  "Bangladesh presents a comparatively poor scenario (9th) among ten other Asian countries in Tobacco Industry Interference (TII) Index," said the report.

Progga conducted the study on 10 Asian countries in different time period using questionnaire developed by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) and collected information about Bangladesh which are publicly available in different government organizations and websites.

According to the study Bangladesh scored 78 out of 100, which suggests that Bangladesh government has performed poorly in implementing the FCTC Article 5.3. The score of the other nine countries are Brunei 29, Philippines 39, Thailand 49, Cambodia 51, Malaysia, Lao PDR 60, Myanmar 60, Vietnam 72 and Indonesia 81. According to the study, the lower the score, the better compliance it shows in regard to FCTC Article 5.3.

"In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law", said PROGGA Coordinator Hasan Shahriar while presenting the research findings.