angladesh is close to imposing a total ban on nicotine vapes, which have helped tens of millions of people around the world quit smoking. The planned ban reportedly also includes oral nicotine pouches, another important harm reduction alternative in South Asia.
If confirmed, it will be another major blow to harm reduction, when several Asian governments have enacted similar prohibitions.
With almost 170 million people, Bangladesh is the eighth most populous country in the world. And it’s a major tobacco consumer. A national smoking rate of over 20 percent—often traditional bidi, as well as cigarettes—contains a large gender split. While very few Bangladeshi women smoke, the rate is about 40 percent among men. The country suffers over 160,000 smoking-related deaths each year.
“Under the proposed law, anyone caught vaping will be subject to a fine of 5,000 taka (about $46).”
The government has been considering plans for a vape ban since 2019, when a minister cited the so-called “EVALI” outbreak in the United States—blamed on, but not caused by, nicotine vapes—as justification.
A draft amendment to Bangladesh’s Smoking and Using of Tobacco Products (Control) Act has now been prepared by the Health Ministry and reviewed by the cabinet. This was ordered by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina—ostensibly to bring the country’s law in line with the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and in pursuit of the government’s plan to make Bangladesh “tobacco-free” by 2040.
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