Tobacco killing 15,000 Nepalis every year: NCRS

Kathmandu, May 30:

Every year, 15,000 Nepalis die due to tobacco consumption and smoking.

Thanks to the delay in the ratification of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the promotion of tobacco products has been going unabated.

“Earlier, the ratification was delayed, ‘citing the lack of authentic legal body in the country’. No efforts have been made on that front even after the formation of a new government and the revival of the House,” said Diwakar Raj Karnikar, president of the Nepal Cancer Relief Society (NCRS).

He also accused the government of delaying the ratification of the convention owing to pressure from big cigarette factories. “The government should not make compromise on the matter as it concerns public health,” said.

Two officials of the Health Ministry had participated in the first Conference of Parties (COP) for the effective implementation of Tobacco Control Treaty in Geneva in February 2006. The COP is the governing body of the treaty.

According to the WHO, concrete measures included in the treaty could help save 200 million lives worldwide by the year 2050, if a progressive 50 per cent reduction in uptake and consumption rates is achieved.

Many measures in the WHO FCTC have deadlines and clear guidelines. With the treaty’s entry into force, countries have three years to enforce health warnings on tobacco products, and five years to implement comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

The NCRS will submit a memorandum to the government tomorrow, demanding that it ratify the FCTC at the earliest.

Dr Bishnu Pandit, acting secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), said the government was very serious about ratifying the FCTC. “The convention could not be ratified due to the absence of the parliament,” he said, adding: “The MoHP is working to press the issue in the cabinet.” The Kathmandu Metropolitan Corporation has agreed to provide space for putting hoardings against smoking and tobacco consumption in 10 places of the valley.

The MoHP, WHO, NCRS and the National Pressure Group against Tobacco are organising a rally tomorrow from Bhrikuti Mandap to mark the World No Tobacco Day.