KMC’s Good Initiative

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Bini Dahal

The health sector is always prioritised by governments and authorities around the world considering its importance. A government is not just responsible for providing better and efficient health services to people but also regulating or putting unhealthy habits under a control through certain restrictions. Effective from Wednesday (December 13), the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) has prohibited the sale and consumption of tobacco-related products in public places. The ban is effective in all the 32 Wards within the metropolis. 

The local government had released a public notice in this connection about two weeks back. In the case where the authority comes across anyone selling any kind of tobacco-related products, such products would be seized. Also, any individual found consuming tobacco products within a 100-metre radius of any public place would be fined Rs.100. The products banned include raw tobacco, chewing tobacco and other smokeless tobacco items. The authority has also adopted the policy of stopping people from smoking in public places. 

The prohibition is in line with the Health Policy, 2080 B.S. introduced by the KMC. The authority not just wants to ensure improvement in human health but also reduce environmental pollution caused by plastic packaging. This initiative is an important step towards ensuring better health and well-being of the general public. 

Tobacco consumption is considered to be injurious to health as it may have a number of adverse effects on human health. Such products are carcinogenic in nature and can cause harm to mouth, throat, stomach and other organs. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 27,000 people die from tobacco use in Nepal every year. 

Generally, authorities impose a heavy taxation on tobacco products to regulate the market. When taxes are increased on these products, the propensity to consume falls. Although authorities in Nepal are found increasing taxes on such hazardous items almost every year, such excises are much lower than many other nations. 

This could be one of the main reasons behind the growing use of tobacco. A study has shown the implication of tobacco control policy for smokeless tobacco use. The study mainly highlights the situation of many countries around the globe and comes to the conclusion that taxation coupled with other policy initiatives has a positive outcome when it comes to reducing the use of smokeless tobacco.  

For a regular consumer and someone who is addicted to smokeless tobacco, the idea of staying away from these products could be difficult. And obviously they will have to be patient for quite a time. But on the flip side, it is crucial that people understand how beneficial it will be for their health. Also, plastic, a major contributor to environmental pollution, has remained a headache. To ensure a better environment, authorities have to implement proper policies. So banning tobacco use is like killing two birds with one stone.

The KMC will have to put in their consistent efforts to ensure that tobacco use is controlled within the metropolis. Other local governments can also follow suit to help improve the health of people. This kind of initiative should be free from unnecessary political manoeuvre and self-interests of certain individuals and groups. By working towards the greater good, much can be done. Such important initiatives must be given continuity even by the next KMC leadership. 

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