Nepal, a signatory to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, intends to create a tobacco-free society by 2020. That will be a tall order. At least 49 per cent males and 29 per cent females in Nepal smoke habitually. The use of other tobacco products like khaini and surti is widespread as well. On an average, 15,000 Nepalis lose their lives to tobacco every year; a cigarette cuts seven valuable minutes of each life.

There is an urgent need to step up awareness campaigns against tobacco products and make people, including youngsters, see the great dangers of prolonged tobacco consumption. The World Health Organisation estimates that even simple measures like banning tobacco-related advertisements will bring down tobacco consumption by 16 per cent.

Advertisement of tobacco products is already banned in broadcast media. Why not apply it in case of print media? As participants of a meet organised to mark the World No Tobacco Day (May 31) in Kathmandu emphasised, tobacco consumption is as much a medical problem as it is a social problem. The medial woes range from increased BP, restlessness to cancers of mouth, throat and lungs. Smokers are three times more likely to get heart diseases as compared to non-smokers. On the social front, smokers tend to be a source of considerable discomfort for non-smokers.