Bangladeshi youths, who are one-third of the total population, might become a burden for the country instead of assets due to tobacco addiction, Progga, a platform of anti-tobacco campaigners, said yesterday.
In a statement issued marking International Youth Day, the platform said the country's future depends on skills and capabilities of the youth.
Each year, 126,000 lives are lost in Bangladesh because of diseases sprouting from tobacco use. The tobacco industry fills up loss of consumers by targeting children, teenagers and young adults, it said.
Referring to the latest information by Tobacco Atlas, the statement said the number of tobacco users who are 10 to 14 years old in Bangladesh is 1.72 lakh, which is 1.86 percent more than other mid-level countries of the Human Development Index.
According to US Surgeon General Report 2014, nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began smoking by age 18. Smoking at such early age reduces lung efficiency, hampers lung growth, and increases risks of lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases and emotional or psychological distress over years, it added.
The statement further said tobacco and related industries use several manipulation tactics, including making sleek designs, and innovative and flavoured tobacco products; promoting tobacco products in movies, TV shows and online streaming shows; and making it available near educational institutions.
"The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco companies spend yearly USD 900 crore to attract teenagers and youths, and transform them into future loyal customers," reads the statement.
Progga Executive Director ABM Zubair said the young generation will not be able to contribute to attain the status of a developed country by 2041, if they become sick due to tobacco addiction.
Therefore, it is high time to protect the youth by implementing tobacco control laws, he added.