City’s fresh bid to ban tobacco consumption in public places

- ANUP OJHA, Kathmandu

Mar 12, 2019-

After numerous failed attempts to ban smoking and tobacco chewing in public places, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City has announced yet another campaign to enforce ban to make the Capital a healthier place.

Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi, who also leads a five-member inspection committee, said she was holding consultations with the representatives of all 32 wards of Kathmandu to make the drive a success.

“I’m in consultation with the ward representatives and stakeholders. We have decided to run awareness programmes at schools and  reach every nook and corner of the city with anti-tobacco visuals and street performances,” Khadgi said.

On February 25 last year, Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya had announced an 18-month action plan to make Kathmandu a healthy city. However, the action plan was not followed. The ban on smoking and tobacco chewing was enforced in the initial days, but it was not continued. The World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative had provided Rs10 million to assist the metropolis to conduct the ‘Healthy City’ campaign. And the city authorities plan to follow through on the campaign this time around.

The Tobacco Product (Control and Regulatory) Act-2011 bars smoking in public places, but remains largely unimplemented.

According to the law, anyone breaching the law is liable to a fine of Rs100 to Rs100,000 depending on the nature of the offence. Narendra Bilash Bajracharya, chief at the Public Health Department of the metropolis, told the Post, “We need strong determination as well as support from the public to make this drive a success. We have been consulting with the deputy mayor and other stakeholders to launch the drive.”

On Sunday, an informal meeting attended by Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, joint-secretary at the Health Ministry, discussed the agenda of making Kathmandu a ‘tobacco and smoking-free zone.

“The metropolis is working with the ministry to make the drive more effective this time,” said Bajracharya.

According to the government’s data, 16,000 people die annually from tobacco consumption in Nepal.

Since 2015, the government has made it mandatory for cigarette manufacturers to print graphic health warnings, covering 90 percent of the front and back of every tobacco packs. But, experts say, the graphic health warnings on tobacco packs has not led to the decline in tobacco consumption.

According to the WHO report published in March last year, tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than 7 million people a year. The report shows that more than 6 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to passive smoking.

Published: 12-03-2019 10:09

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