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Adhunik


Adhunik a voluntary anti-tobacco smoking organisation. It is well kwn all over the country as a symbol of creating awareness about the hazardous consequences of tobacco smoking on human health. The name is made by sequentially arranging the first letters of a four-word Bengali sentence which when translated into English would read as 'we do prevent smoking'. Tobacco smoking has been popular in Bangladesh since long past. Various methods are used for smoking tobacco in this subcontinent. Traditionally, three ways have been common in Bangladesh. Cigarette and, to a lesser extent, cigar are of course in wide use in the well-to-do section of the people. Other ways popular among the poor working class and the villagers include smoking unrefined tobacco rolled in dried tobacco leaves or in low-quality cigarette paper commonly called bidi. The use of traditional hukka, which consists of a water-filled container with a narrow hollow tube on top of which is set a receptacle where the tobacco is burnt with charcoal. In the villages, more than 50% of the adult male population uses tobacco.

Since the appreciation of the fact that tobacco smoking could be harmful for health in the early 1960s, which was later substantiated by scientific evidence, an anti-smoking sentiment began to crystallise in the western world. It was particularly strong in the USA and Canada. Western Europe also joined the movement fairly rapidly. However, in the countries of Asia and Africa anti-smoking awareness was slow to come although in recent years some progress is visible.

In Bangladesh, the first organised anti-tobacco effort is represented by the founding of the organisation Adhunik in the 1970s. It works for awareness creation on the harmful effects of smoking through seminars, symposia, meetings and processions, and radio and TV programmes. Financial support for the organisation mainly comes, albeit on a modest scale, from the government and some international bodies, particularly of the UN system. Adhunik has its working units located in different cities and towns of the country, but its spread in smaller towns and in the villages has so far been limited. Thus, a very large fraction of the organisation's target group that resides in the villages is yet to benefit from the anti-smoking drive of Adhunik. Nevertheless, the work carried out by Adhunik and the various anti-smoking steps that the government has taken against smoking have contributed to some reduction in the extent of smoking in Bangladesh, particularly in cities and towns. There has been over the past two decades greater reduction of cigarette smoking in the male population particularly of the higher income groups, but smoking has t declined to any significant extent in the bulk of the village population of Bangladesh. [Zia Uddin Ahmed]

See also cancer; health and health sciences