KMC reintroduces ban on smoking in public placesKathmandu Metropolitan City officials claim the ban will be enforced effectively this time despite repeated failures in the past.
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City on Thursday announced a restriction on smoking and tobacco chewing in public places, effective from Saturday.
The City’s eleventh municipal executive meeting took a decision to that effect.
In view of public health and other considerations, the metropolis made the announcement to ban tobacco use in public, the City said in a notice.
Those who do not abide by the city’s rule will be punished under the Tobacco Products (Control and Regulatory) Act (2011), the notice states.
The Act bars smoking or chewing tobacco in public spaces and has a provision to slap a fine of Rs100 to Rs100,000 to the offenders.
This, however, is not the first time the City has announced the ban.
In March, 2019, it had announced a similar restriction on smoking and tobacco use in public spaces in all 32 wards of the metropolis.
Former mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya and deputy mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi both had committed to the strict regulation of the rule across the city, but its enforcement was a failure.
In the preceding year, in 2018, Shakya had announced an 18-month action plan that included a smoking ban to make Kathmandu “a healthy city”. This had failed to deter smoking in public spaces too.
Even further back, in 2016, the Metropolitan Police Range Kathmandu had stepped up action against anyone smoking in public places. The security body had detained more than 600 rule-breakers in a week. They were fined Rs100 each but the campaign soon fizzled out.
But this time around, the City will be mobilsing municipal police, Nepal Police and volunteers to make the drive a success, said Nabin Manandhar, spokesperson for the city office.
Manandhar added that the ban this time will see success as the working procedure of the newly elected representatives is different.
“You can see how illegal structures are being demolished in Kathmandu,” he said. “We are committed to what we say. From Saturday onwards, people will see the difference.”
In the first week of March, the neighouring Lalitpur Metropolitan City had declared the Patan Durbar Square, Jawalakhel and the periphery of City’s building in Pulchowk as “smoking-free area”.
The Lalitpur city has also banned shop owners from selling cigarettes and tobacco near schools and colleges.
“Unlike earlier, this is going to be more effective,” said
Balram Tripathi, chief of the Health Department, Kathmandu, echoed Manandhar, saying the ban will have effect this time.
“We have made a work plan, and you will see it once it goes into implementation,” Tripathi said.
According to Tripathi, for the first few weeks, the City will be organising an awareness drive. In the second phase, the City will start taking action against those who breach the rule.
According to the World Health Organisation’s May 2022 report, more than 8 million people die as a result of direct tobacco use every year around the world while around 1.2 million deaths are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
A report published by the non-profit Nepal Development Research Institute said that 13 percent of deaths in Nepal in 2017 were attributed to smoking.