HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: A year after the endorsement of the Anti-Tobacco Act and the Supreme Court directive that tobacco product packets should sport statutory warning and graphics on the harmful effects of tobacco covering 75 per cent of the packets, the court has come across 10 litigations against the directive.
According to Badri Bahadur Khadka, director of the National Health Education, Information and Communication Centre at the health ministry, tobacco companies have been touting the revenue they generate and threatening to cut jobs in the industry if the Act remains in force.
In the name of corporate social responsibility, these companies have been organising sponsorship and providing donation at various sectors, Khadka said at a programme to mark the 25th World No Tobacco Day with the slogan ‘stop tobacco industry interference’.
According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco is the only legal drug/product that kills half of its users, accounting for six million deaths related to non-communicable diseases.
According to Tobacco Atlas, one in four adults worldwide smoke and one-third of the global smokers are aged 15 and above. About 80 per cent of smokers live in 24 countries.
More than 40 per cent smokers live in two countries — China and India. Globally, 80,000 to 100,000 youth start smoking every day and one-fifth of young people begin before they are 10.
The Global Youth Tobacco Survey, 2011 conducted between 13-15 year age group, showed that nine per cent of the youth use tobacco in Nepal. About 38.4 per cent of the surveyed people were exposed at home, 48.6 per cent at enclosed public places and 57.7 per cent at outdoor public places.
The Nepal Demographic Health Survey-2011 showed 52 per cent male and 13.3 per cent female (15-49) use tobacco.
According to the Tobacco Economic Survey, nearly 15,000 (9,000 male and 6,000 female) deaths — two deaths per hour — is attributed to smoking in Nepal annually.
Smokers have two to four times higher chance of heart attack than non-smokers, Dr Bhagwan Koirala, managing director of the Institute of Medicine, said.
About 20 per cent of people experiencing heart attack below 40 years of age are smokers. Male smokers and female smokers lose 13 and 14 years of life respectively and healthcare costs are higher by 40 per cent in smokers than non-smokers, he added.
Smoking can cause lungs, stomach, pancreas, bladder, oral cavity and throat cancer, heart attack, stroke, limb ischemia.
On the occasion, the WHO urged the government to be vigilant of the tobacco industry’s interference in tobacco control initiatives.
As countries move to meet their obligations under the WHO framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the tobacco industry is becoming more aggressive in its attempts to undermine the treaty by acting against the polices contained in it, WHO said in a press statement.