Local units fail to submit reports on tobacco consumption controlEven as a large number of people die every year due to illnesses caused by tobacco consumption, none of the local governments seem serious about controlling and regulating tobacco products.
Even as a large number of people die every year due to illnesses caused by tobacco consumption, none of the local governments seem serious about controlling and regulating tobacco products.
While the Tobacco Products (Control and Regulatory) Act, 2011, makes it mandatory for local governments to submit an annual report on measures taken to control and regulate tobacco products to the Ministry of Health and Population, none of them has submitted the report.
Health Ministry said local governments have not been submitting the report, because of which the ministry is facing difficulties in preparing the national strategy for tobacco control.
“Not a single local government has submitted its annual report to the ministry. This makes it difficult for us to find whether they are performing their responsibilities as per the act or not,” said Pushkar Raj Nepal, under-secretary at the legal section of the ministry. The Act was brought with an objective to reduce, control and regulate the import, production, sales, distribution and consumption of tobacco products. According the Act, an inspection committee has to be formed at the local level, and annual report of the committee’s activities i.e, measures taken for controlling and regulating tobacco products must be prepared.
A recent data of WHO shows that there are about 6 million tobacco users in Nepal and around 27,137 deaths occur annually due to tobacco consumption.
“A yearly report from the local government helps us in making further plans and policies in the sector of tobacco control, but we have yet to receive any report so far. We have even sent a written letter to the concerned ministries about the issue,” said Nepal.
The ministry on February 25 had forwarded the letter to the Prime Minister’s Office, Home Ministry, Industry Ministry and Federal Affairs Ministry, requesting them to instruct the local governments to implement the Act.
The Act prohibits smoking in educational institutions, libraries, training and health-related institutions, cinema halls, cultural centres, theatres, religious places, child welfare homes, hermitages for senior citizens, parks and other public places. Similarly, the Act also states that no person shall be allowed to smoke in houses or on private vehicles in a way to affect another person.
“The health ministry is concerned about the public’s health. Strict implementation of the Act in public places not only improves the health of active consumers but of the passive consumers as well,” said a high-level ministry official in the condition of anonymity.