The Bangladesh railway system—this includes stations, platforms, and train compartments—is now entirely smokefree, following a February directive from Railway Minister, Mr. Md. Nurul Islam Sujan. Working in conjunction with The Union, the Minister launched the “Initiative to make Bangladesh Railways Tobacco Free (IMBRTFP).” He also announced that all railway employees are to abstain from any form of smoking during work hours, cautioning that violators are subject to fines as per the Smoking and Tobacco Usage (control) Act 2005. “No-smoking” signage must also be displayed in all stations, offices, and on trains.
Created in 1862, the Ministry of Railway is Bangladesh’s oldest government organization, and the railway system is also the country’s most popular public transportation system; it serves over 90 million riders each year and employs over 25,000 workers. Both workers and commuters previously used tobacco on the trains.
According to the most recent Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2017), 35 percent of Bangladesh’s adult population uses tobacco products. In 2018, tobacco killed 126,000 people. The “Smoking and Tobacco Usage (control) Act 2005” prohibits smoking in public places and public transport, with the exception of public transport systems containing two or more rooms. In this instance, designated smoking rooms are permitted. To date, the last coach of many long trains was used as a smoking coach, but the smoke is not contained and frequently permeates other cars. Making the Bangladesh Railway entirely smokefree will preclude designated smoking cars, thereby protecting millions of non-smokers from tobacco.
The Ministry of Railway is strongly aligned with and supportive of the Prime Minister’s vision for a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040. The sale of tobacco products in railway station shops has been banned since November 2021.