Smoking to kill 200 million in China this century: WHO

smoking cigarettes(AFP)
Updated 14 April 2017
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Smoking to kill 200 million in China this century: WHO

BEIJING: Smoking-related diseases will claim 200 million lives in China this century and plunge tens of millions into poverty, a report said Friday.
China is the world’s largest consumer and producer of tobacco, and the industry provides the government with colossal sums.
In 2015, it recorded 1.1 trillion yuan ($160 billion) in profits, up 20 percent year-on-year.
But a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said Friday that the Asian giant will suffer an economic toll if it does not urgently reduce its smoking population.
The paper — called “The Bill China Cannot Afford” — estimated that the total annual economic cost of tobacco use in the country in 2014 was 350 billion yuan, up tenfold from 2000.
“If nothing is done to reduce [the death rate] and introduce more progressive policies, the consequences could be devastating not just for the health of people across the country, but also for China’s economy as a whole,” WHO China representative Bernhard Schwartlander said in a statement.
The calculation includes both the direct costs of treating tobacco-related illness and the indirect costs such as lost work productivity.
“The rapid increase in costs associated with tobacco use in China is unsustainable,” Schwartlander added.
Twenty-eight percent of all adults and 50 percent of men in China are estimated to smoke regularly.
Rural-to-urban migrants are more likely to be smokers, the report said, adding that they risk descending into poverty when smoking-related medical costs become too great — a reality at odds with the government goal of eradicating poverty nationwide by 2020.
The organizations recommended a smoke-free policy across the country akin to laws in Beijing and Shanghai, where smoking is banned in most public places.
However, enforcing anti-smoking measures can be difficult in China as the state-owned China National Tobacco Corp, which enjoys a near-monopoly, shares offices and senior officials with the national tobacco regulator.
The report also urged further raising tobacco taxes to make smoking less affordable. While retail tobacco prices increased following a taxation hike in 2015, the average price of a cigarette pack remains just ten yuan.
A 50 percent increase in the retail price of cigarettes would prevent 20 million premature deaths over 50 years, the report said.


Dhaka relishes traditional ‘Dhakaia iftar’ in Ramadan

Chawak Bazar Iftar market vendors on a busy Wednesday afternoon. (AN photo)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Dhaka relishes traditional ‘Dhakaia iftar’ in Ramadan

  • While much has changed in Dhaka, its tasty Ramadan dishes have stayed the same in the 400-year old city established by the Mughal dynasty.
  • The exquisite variety of kebabs attracts food lovers from far and wide, reminding them of the existence of Mughals through different food menus — offering tikka, shutli, jaali, shami, irani and other kinds of kebabs.

DHAKA: “To me it’s like a festival. During Ramadan, all of us friends regularly gather at my house and have the ‘Dhakaia Iftar’ together,” said Abdullah Alamin, 48, a city dweller of old Dhaka.

While much has changed in Dhaka, these tasty dishes have stayed the same in the 400-year old city established by the Mughal dynasty.

“Chawak Bazar Iftar market of old Dhaka has a history of more than 100 years. Many things of the area have changed with the passage of time but the Chawak Bazar Iftar remains unchanged,” said renowned historian Muntasir Mamun, a professor at Dhaka University.

Chawak Bazar became the city center of Dhaka during the Mughal regime in the early-16th century. The iftar bazar is a continuity of the retail market set up since then, Muntasir said.

During Ramadan, people from all over Dhaka get something more to add to their regular iftar menu.

In Chawak Bazar, vendors in makeshift shops offer a variety of iftar items. These include “boro baper polai khai” (only the son of an influential father eats this), shahi jilapi, shahi paratha, beef, chicken, mutton, pigeon, quail roast, keema roll, keema paratha, doi bora, borhani.

The exquisite variety of kebabs attracts food lovers from far and wide, reminding them of the existence of Mughals through different food menus — offering tikka, shutli, jaali, shami, irani and other kinds of kebabs.

Boro baper polai khai is the most popular iftar item among the locals. People from old Dhaka can simply not complete their iftar without having a piece of it. This is an exclusive food of the city made of chicken, minced meat, potatoes, brain, chira, egg, spices and ghee.

“This is a traditional food of old Dhaka. I saw my grandfather enjoying eating boro baper polai khai,” said Hajji Joinal Molla, 79, who has been living in the Lalbag area of old Dhaka for many years.

“We love to treat our special guests with this dish,” Joinal said.

Most of the 200 vendors at the market are second- or third-generation businesses. 

“My 11-year-old son is very fond of shami kebab at Chawak Bazar. Today he has invited some of his friends to our house, which brought me here to this iftar market,” said Shamsuddin Ahmed, 55, a resident of Uttara, new Dhaka.

“These traditional Iftar items have become an integral part of our iftar culture,” Shamsuddin said.