In a welcome move the parliament has endorsed a bill that aims to restrict tobacco consumption in public places. The new law bans tobacco consumption in vital public places like schools, colleges, hospitals, government offices, temples and public vehicles.
Another important provision in the law is that it terms tobacco sales to minors as a legal offense. The law, more than any thing else, aims to minimize the health risks on non-smokers due to smoking by others in public places. It’s only fair to say that the non-smokers should have full protection from the hazards of smoking by others in the public places. That the parliament has passed the law, the government should now make serious and concerted effort to inform the public about this law and to enforce it strictly.
Once the law comes into force it will also have an impact on the sales of cigarettes. Besides protecting the non-smokers, this law also aims to reduce the overall consumption of tobacco. As the law bans the sale of loose cigarettes, it’s is expected to significantly dent sales and consumption of cigarette. Buying cigarettes in packets will cost more and may discourage the buyers, but there is also a chance, at least with some smokers, that they might actually end up smoking more as they will now buy cigarettes in bulk. Let’s just hope that this will not be the case.
Awareness about the hazards of tobacco is the key to reducing its consumption. The new law rightly asks the tobacco companies to fill 75 percent space of the packaging of the tobacco products with the facts about health hazards from tobacco consumption, and totally bans advertisements promoting tobacco use in any form. But relying just on law to change the age-old habits such as smoking is not a good idea.
We all should take responsibility in combating tobacco consumption that kills millions of people around the world and thousands in Nepal. In Nepal, prevalence of smoking and tobacco use is 56.5 percent in men and 19.5 percent in women, which is higher in comparison to other countries. Tobacco use here is found to be higher among the poor and illiterate sections of the population.
Awareness campaign about tobacco should begin at home. If parents smoke, there is a high chance that the children will pick up smoking at some point in their life. So if the parents wish to keep their children away from tobacco, they should quit smoking and chewing it. When it comes to smoking and drinking, children take cue not from what parents say but from what they do. Parents, who drink and smoke, hardly make a good example against tobacco and alcohol for their children.