The petitioner in this case sought court orders prohibiting all forms of tobacco advertisements. He complained about dangers to life and health caused by smoking and claimed that the environment was polluted by tobacco consumption. He argued that all the tobacco related companies were advertising their products in different spheres of media such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio and billboards. The statutory warning about health hazards was so small that it was not even readable thereby defeating the spirit of the laws to make awareness about the dangerous nature of the tobacco based products. The petitioner asserted that the great majority of rural people who consumed tobacco based products were illiterate and completely unaware of the dangers and harmfulness of consuming it.
The court analyzed jurisdiction within and outside Bangladesh related to the matter, national legislation including the fundamental rights under the constitution as well as policies adopted in other countries. It emphasized that it could not be oblivious to the effect of consumption of tobacco and the effect of promotional advertisement not only among the young but among unaware and illiterate citizens. The Court was oath bound to protect the Constitution including the fundamental rights of the citizens and was obliged to enforce the same even in the absence of any appropriate legislation.
Cigarette advertisement on the news media, bill boards or on the electronic medias had the effect of propagating and inducing people, particularly the younger generation to adopt the smoking habit which resulted in endangering human life and the environment. Thus, advertisement of cigarettes were steps which could be termed detrimental to life and body of the people and in this view of the matter Article 31 of the Constitution was directly contravened by advertisements in any form.
Accordingly, the court directed the respondents that advertisement in any form of Cigarette, would not continue in any manner in Newspapers, Magazine, Signboards, or in any electronic media like Television/Radio. The Government had to take steps phase by phase to stop production of tobacco leaves in the tobacco growing Districts of Bangladesh, giving subsidy to the farmers, if possible and necessary to produce other agricultural products instead of tobacco. The Government had to direct the existing tobacco companies to switch over to some other industry to prevent production of Cigarettes. The importation of cigarette or tobacco related products had to be prohibited within a reasonable period.