Call to implement 90pc pictorial warning

November 01, 2017

The Himalayan Times, 31 Oct 2017

Although 21 months have passed since the amendment to the ‘Directives for Printing and Labelling of Warning Message and Graphics in the Boxes, Packets, Wrappers, Cartons, Parcels and Packaging of Tobacco Products-2011’ was approved, the government has yet to bring the new rule into implementation.

The government had passed the amendment to the directives on October 31, 2014. The new rule requires tobacco companies to give 90 per cent coverage to pictorial warnings on packets of tobacco products as part of enforcement of the Tobacco Products (Control and Regulation) Act, 2012.

Speaking at an interaction on ‘Implementation of 90 per cent pictorial health warning on packets of tobacco products’ organised by Action Nepal in Kathmandu today, speakers urged the government to make tobacco industries abide by the directives.

“Non-implementation of the legal provisions is worrisome and the government, especially the Ministry of Health, should take necessary initiatives to put the law into effect and to cause the tobacco industries to abide by it,” Ananda Bahadur Chand, chairperson of Action Nepal, said. He asserted that the enforcement of rules would help the government reduce tobacco consumption and its burden on public health.

“It is a proven way to make both smokers and non-smokers aware of the health risks associated with tobacco use,” he added.

According to the findings of a study ‘Monitoring Effectiveness of PHW in Nepal: What We Have Found and What We Have Learnt’ conducted in 2015, as many as 55 per cent of current smokers reduced the amount of cigarettes smoked due to the pictorial warnings on the wrappers and packets of tobacco products.

Current smoking prevalence among male and female is 51.9 per cent and 13 per cent respectively. More than 25,000 people die of tobacco related diseases every year, government reports say.

Mahendra Shrestha, chief of Kathmandu Public Health Office, said his office was committed to enforcing the law in coordination with the government and other stakeholders.

Radhika Thapaliya, an official at National Health Education, Information and Communication Centre under the MoH, said the government was doing groundwork to delegate the powers of district administration to enforce tobacco related laws to local levels.