This study describes and analyses compliance with tobacco product graphic health warning (GHW) legislation introduced in Bangladesh in March 2016.
A survey based on a structured questionnaire was conducted in April 2016 (immediately following the law coming into force), and 8 months later in November 2016, in eight divisional cities in Bangladesh. Five stores from three categories of retailers of combustible and smokeless tobacco products were surveyed, providing a total of 120 completed questionnaires. The study investigated a range of measures including the image and text of GHW, their ratio and colour use, and prescribed rotation.
Warning labels for 3312 tobacco items were assessed. In April 2016, 75% of tobacco products surveyed did not have GHWs. In November 2016, 19% were still found to not have the prescribed warnings. Even among products which did include GHW, there was significant non-compliance with the full range of requirements, in both survey periods. Compliance was highest for cigarette packets and lowest among smokeless tobacco products. In addition, awareness among tobacco retailers about the range of GHW requirements was low.
Effective implementation of GHW labels in low-income and middle-income countries requires awareness-raising among key stakeholders, combined with focused monitoring and compliance strategies. This should take into account different product categories and manufacturers, as well as measures targeted at retailers.