Bangladesh’ Ministry of Health and Family Welfare wants to amend the country’s tobacco act to ban e-cigarettes and oral nicotine pouches, reports The Business Standard. The proposal also includes new restrictions on combustible tobacco products.
Health activists have been calling for prohibition of e-cigarettes, which are not mentioned in the current legislation. The proposal would prohibit not only the consumption of vapor products, but also the production, import, export, storage, sale and transportation of e-cigarettes or their parts.
People caught vaping would face maximum fine of BDT5,000 ($53.80) under the plan, while producers and traders would risk imprisonment for a maximum of six months or a fine not exceeding BDT200,000 or both for the first time. The punishment would double each time the offence is repeated.
E-cigarettes started arriving informally in Bangladesh a few years ago and quickly became popular. As demand increased, British American Tobacco started producing and selling e-cigarettes in the market. Japan Tobacco is also reportedly preparing to market e-cigarettes in Bangladesh.
The health ministry’s proposal would also tighten restrictions on traditional tobacco products. Among other provisions, it includes a ban on flavors and an increase in the size of graphic health warnings to 90 percent of the packaging’s surface from the 50 percent required under current legislation. The draft also foresees new retail licensing requirements and limitation on where tobacco can be sold.
The health ministry has recently sent copies of the draft to stakeholders. The Directorate General of Health Services is accepting opinions on the draft until July 14.