Burning Cigarettes: The Burning Issue in Bangladesh

A neglected issue that nevertheless has a hazardous impact on human life is smoking. Studies prove that smoking causes many problems especially in developing countries. And its impacts are more dangerous in poor countries like Bangladesh where the smoking rate is “60%” (Solomon). But still it is not too late to overcome this problem; the Bangladeshi government should pass a bill against the production and sale of cigarettes. This will help to eradicate the issue of smoking and problems related to it. The opponents of making cigarettes illegal in Bangladesh claim that it will negatively affect the economy of the country, that cigarettes are not as harmful as other drugs, and that smoking should be a personal freedom. But in reality, cigarettes are a burden for the broken economy of poor countries, and in fact deteriorate smokers lives and as well as the lives of others. Consequently, cigarettes should be made illegal in Bangladesh.

While opponents of banning cigarettes claim that it will affect the economy negatively; in fact they are not aware of the harmful effects of cigarettes on the economy of the poor countries like Bangladesh. According to surveys by Debra Efroymson an Advisor to the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lungs Diseases: expenses of cigarettes are a huge burden for the economy in Bangladesh. “The poorest (household income less than $24 per month) are twice as likely to smoke as the wealthiest (household income more than $118 per month)” (Efroymson, 212). A Chittagong rickshaw driver, Babul, disclosed his daily income and expenditures during an interview on Muhammad Ali Road. Babul’s daily income is 200tk­­-300tk and his daily expenses on cigarettes are 30tk-40tk. In addition to this, he is also addicted to some other drugs; meanwhile he is supposed to feed six people of his family. It will be difficult for a person to carry out the expenses of six people with such a limited income while spending extra money for cigarettes. According to Efroymson most of the smokers in Bangladesh are spending twice as much of their income on cigarettes than on “clothing, housing, health and on education” (212). The poor smokers would be able to add “500 calories” to the diet of their children with their daily expenditures on cigarettes (212). Moreover, the statistics shows that if the money spent on cigarettes will be spent on the food, it will be possible to nourish “10.5 million” people who are currently having a problem of malnutrition and the lives of “350 children” may be saved who are dying per month due to undernourishment (212). So if this law will be implemented in Bangladesh it may be possible that the economy of country will be stable and in each month hundreds of lives may be saved.

Opponents of banning cigarettes and tobacco products further claim that smoking is useful to decrease tension and it is less harmful than other drugs. However, studies prove that the hazardous chemicals of cigarette smoke cause innumerable diseases in human beings. The Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine shares very important facts about the diseases caused by cigarette smoke. According to them, “3 million” people are losing their lives due to diseases caused by cigarette smoke in developed countries and this rate is higher in developing countries like Bangladesh. Cigarette smoke causes many types of cancers such as “lungs, upper respiratory, bladder, pancreas, esophagus, stomach, and blood cancer” (70). Besides cancer, many other fatal diseases are also caused by the dangerous chemicals found in cigarette smoke such as “respiratory heart diseases, stroke, pneumonia, aortic aneurysm and ischaemic heart diseases.” (71). At the same time, cigarette smoke also causes many non-fatal diseases. Cigarette smoke is also dangerous for pregnant women because “in pregnancy, smoking increases the risk of limb reduction defects, and low birth weight” (Wald, 73). Now it is clear that decreasing stress by smoking is negligible as compared to the fatal diseases like cancer, stroke, and premature birth caused by cigarettes.

A final argument from opponents is that people should have the right to their choice of smoking. But actually they are not only putting their own lives in danger, but also harming other’s lives. Yes, I agree if anyone wants to smoke he or she can, but if we discuss this in the context of Bangladesh “130 million” people are living in “1,301,70 square kilometers” of land, so the population density of Bangladesh is “1,142.29”, which means “1,142.29 people are living in one square kilometer of land” (Bangladesh Demographic Profile 2012). And “60% people reported smoking in Bangladesh” (Solomon). Due to this high number of smoking and the high population density, approximately 100% of the population is suffering from passive smoking. It shows that smoking is affecting the entire nation of Bangladesh. Furthermore, according to Demography of Bangladesh in 2012 the average life expectancy of Bangladeshis was “67 years.” In America, the average life expectancy of American people is “81.6 years” (Harvard Health Survey). Passive smoking affects approximately everyone in Bangladesh and it may be one reason for low life expectancy in Bangladesh. While ignoring the personal freedom of non-smokers opponents are claiming that they should have the right to the choice of smoking. If government is not able to fulfill the rights of everyone, at least it should try to fulfill the rights of as many people as possible.

Consequently, smoking causes economic, health, and many other problems. To surmount this problem, in “14 March, 2005 Bangladeshi government passed tobacco control law to ban smoking in public places” (Weissman). The aim of this law was to discourage smoking and sale of cigarettes and tobacco products in Bangladesh (Weissman). According to this law smoking was prevented only in public places but this law was failed and still people are smoking in public places. So, to overcome the issue of smoking government should ban smoking in Bangladesh, because it is not only today’s problem but it is matter of future.

Works Cited

“Average Life of Americans.” 2012. Web. 27 Jan. 2013 <www.health.harvard.edu/press- releases/average-life-expectancy>

Babul. Personal interview. 28 Jan. 2013.

“Bangladesh Demographics Profile.” 2012. Web. 27 Jan. 2013         <www.indexmundi.com/Bangladesh>

Efroymson. Debra. “Hungry for Tobacco: an analysis of the economy impact of tobacco  Consumption on Poor in Bangladesh.” Tobacco Control 10.1 (Sep, 2001): 217-12. Jstor.       Web. 27 Jan. 2013 <www.jstor.org/stable>

Solomon, Konstantins T. Research in Labor Economic. Emerald Group, n.d. Google

            Books. Amazonbooks. Web. 27 Jan. 2013 <www.books.google.com>

Wald, Nicholas J. “Cigarette Smoking: An Epidemiological Overview.” Br Med Bull 52.1 (1996): 3-11. Oxford Journals. Web. 27 Jan. 2013 <www.British Medical             Bulletinbmb.oxfordjournals.org>

Weissman, Robert. “Tobacco Control Law Passed.” United News of Bangladesh. 28 Mar.              2005. Web. 15 Feb. 2013 <http://lists.essential.org/pipermail/intl-     tobacco/2005q1/001197.html>


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