'Govt might ban public place smoking'

KATHMANDU: Minister for Health and Population Umakanta Chaudhary said today that consumption of tobacco and tobacco products had been one of the main causes of premature death in the country.

He said that the government was mulling over banning the consumption of tobacco products in public places.

Addressing an inaugural programme of two-day seminar on MPOWER policy package for effective implementation of tobacco control programme here in the capital, the minister said that the amount collected from revenue of tobacco products was not important than people's health. He also assured that he would take initiative for passing anti-tobacco bill from parliament.

"The government is considering banning tobacco consumption at public places," he said. Nepal had signed Framework Convention for Tobacco Control in 2003 and ratified it in November, 2006. With this, Nepal should make proper law to restrict production and trade of tobacco products.

Dr Praveen Mishra, secretary, Ministry of Health and Population, said that tobacco consumption was developing as a social problem and urged for national level network for creating awareness. "The government should provide alternatives to farmers that are cultivating tobacco as their cash crops," said Mishra, adding that people should be made aware about the negative impact of the tobacco.

"The government has allocated around six per cent of total budget for health sector where around five per cent of allocated budget is used for treating tobacco related diseases," revealed Dr Govinda Prasad Ojha, director general of Department of Health Service.

In comparison to other countries, there are more women smokers in Nepal.