Progga, a platform of anti-tobacco campaigners, on Thursday said that the government’s permission to Japan Tobacco Incorporation to acquire the tobacco businesses of local Akij Group would put the public health of the country into a larger risk.
The move was utterly reprehensible, the non-government organisation said in a press release.
It would also hold back the government’s target of achieving tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040, it said.
JTI on Monday signed an agreement with Akij Group to buy the latter’s subsidiary United Dhaka Tobacco Company Limited with a cost of $1.476 billion (Tk 12,430 crore), which is the single biggest foreign direct investment into the country.
Progga said the Tokyo-based multinational company would bring more death into the country in the name of FDI.
Multinational tobacco companies were used to adopt product diversification and aggressive marketing strategy to occupy market share and target the youth who were the 31 per cent of total population of the country to start tobacco consumption, the organisation said.
The sale of cigarettes in Japan rapidly shrunk and JT’s business in the local market decreased 5.1 per cent after the Japan government introduced a set of stern tobacco control regulations penalising public smoking heavily.
In this context, Bangladesh, the world’s 8th largest cigarette market, along with some other countries, became a major target of the company to offset the shrinking sales at home, the organisation claimed.
Each year about 1.60 lakh people of the country die of diseases and hundreds of thousands get sick caused by tobacco use, according to Progga.
‘But the move of welcoming a global tobacco giant to expand its trade into the country is quite contrary to this commitment,’ it said.