Nepal - tobacco use high in Kathmandu Valley..

August 15, 2010 - A survey was conducted in the Kathmandu valley among 1,500 respondents with a view to knowing the public response towards Tobacco Control and Regulatory Bill, 2010. (Nepal - bill to implement tobacco control measures being debated in parliament)

The survey showed that on average Rs 33.67 is spent on cigarette or bidi per day with a person spending a minimum of Rs three and a maximum of Rs 250 every day.

Kathmandu Valley is made up of the Kathmandu District, Lalitpur District and Bhaktapur District covering an area of 220 square miles(almost the area of Singapore). The valley consists of the municipal areas of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Lalitpur Submetropolitan City, Bhaktapur municipality, Kirtipur Municipality and Madhyapur Thimi Municipality; the remaining area is made up of a number of Village Development Committees. (Kathmandu Valley)
Around 66 percent of the total respondent said smoking should be banned in public places, whereas 75.9 per cent said sell of tobacco and tobacco products to pregnant women should be banned. It was also found on average 7.98 cigarettes or bidi sticks are smoked per day per person, with a person smoking a minimum of one and a maximum of 35 sticks, revealed a recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and Population.

On June 13, 2006 and October 21, 2009, the Supreme Court had asked government to ban smoking at public places, public vehicles, health organisations, child welfare and child care institutions and educational institutions, among others.

At present, Tobacco Control and Regulatory Act-2010 is awaiting a final approval at parliament. As soon as parliament endorses the act, the government will ban smoking or using tobacco in public areas with punishment enforced for the offense.

According to MoHP (Ministry of Health and Population), Nepal collected around Rs 3.77 billion in revenue from tobacco products last year whereas it spent some 47 billion for the treatment of tobacco related disease. In Nepal, over 25,000 people die every year due to tobacco related disease. The Statute Committee of parliament has amended a bill prepared by the government making mandatory to allocate 75 per cent of space in cigarette packets/ wrappers/ labels of any tobacco product for anti-tobacco use messages and pictures.

Similarly, only licence holders can sell tobacco products, and this should not be sold to people aged under-18 or over-75 and pregnant women. The bill has also proposed ban on advertisements and publicity of tobacco products in media and gatherings.

Reference: Tobacco intake high in valley, Himalayan News Service, 8/13/2010.