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Bangladesh's distinctive approach to tobacco control policy enforcement may offer a sustainable and flexible model for other countries, new Union research suggests.

Taskforces working at district levels to implement tobacco control laws are indicated to be both uniquely structured and effective once well-established. The model requires key public authorities, including health and police departments, to work with civil society to enforce smokefree areas, advertising bans and prohibition of sales to minors, in their local community. Violators are brought to justice on-the-spot by mobile courts, which have the power to conduct random inspections, issue fines and destroy illegal material.

Although other countries use tobacco control taskforces, the combination of features within the Bangladeshi version appear to be unique. These multi-stakeholder taskforces operate within existing administrative structures, are low-cost, tailored to local needs, and can effectively address violations in a timely and public manner.

The study, Multi-Stakeholder Taskforces in Bangladesh – A Distinctive Approach to Build Sustainable Tobacco Control Implementation is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. It suggests that the current and potential contribution of tobacco control taskforces to local level policy implementation is substantial.

'The district taskforce model appears to offer an effective means to protect the population from the harms of tobacco use,' said Dr Angela Jackson-Morris, lead author of the study and Senior Grants Officer for The Union's tobacco control department. 'Key ingredients appear to be tailoring to local needs and context, and bringing together a wide variety of stakeholders not only to plan, but also to actively implement the law.'

Bangladesh's National Tobacco Control Cell began to develop taskforces across the country's 64 districts in 2007 as part of its strategy to tackle high rates of tobacco use. 43% percent of the adult population use tobacco, and the economic burden associated with the disease and premature death it causes is calculated to be greater than 3% of GDP.

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