Kathmandu, February 25
Kathmandu Metropolitan City has forwarded a plan to strictly control purchase, sale and consumption of tobacco or smoking in public places in an attempt to promote healthier lifestyle.
Issuing a press release today, KMC Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya requested all city dwellers to support the cause. The release also stated that KMC would deploy city police to check purchase and sale of tobacco. Anyone found dealing in tobacco products and smoking in public places will be fined Rs 100 to Rs 1,000, it said. Likewise, shops will also be restricted from displaying tobacco products and selling them to people below 18 years of age and pregnant women.
KMC Spokesperson Gyanendra Karki said the office was planning to impose a complete ban on the purchase and sale of tobacco products in few years. “We have directed all ward chairs in KMC to form a committee to create awareness of smoking-related health risks and request people to refrain from smoking in public places,” he said.
KMC said that shops within a distance of 100 metres from academic institution and hospital would not be allowed to sell the tobacco products.
Chief of the Urban Health Division at KMC Hari Kumar Shrestha said even shops would have to take special permit to be allowed to sell tobacco products.
Metropolitan Police Range, Kathmandu, had launched a similar programme in February 2016, which was not well-received by the people.
Chief of District Public Health Office Mahendra Shrestha said the government had to halt the programme after it faced criticism from the public.
The government in 2006 ratified the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The Tobacco Product (Control and Regulatory) Act was amended in 2011 restricting consumption of tobacco products in 12 public areas like government bodies, educational institutes, health institutes, recreational parks, transportation hubs, hotels, departmental stores, religious places, theatres, airports and public toilets.
According to the Non-communicable Disease Risk Factors: STEPS Survey Nepal 2013, 30.5 per cent of the total population of the country smoke or consume tobacco products and 36.1 per cent are affected as second hand smokers. Similarly, around 15 per cent of total women are smokers, which is the highest number of women smokers in the world.
The KMC has proposed the plan with a joint collaboration with Bloomberg Philanthropies Partnership for Healthy Cities and Vital Strategies. The organizations are a global Network of cities that work to save lives by preventing non-communicable diseases.
A version of this article appears in print on February 26, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.