Burning Issues: Nepal's Struggle Against Tobacco's Stranglehold on Health and Economy

The escalating impact of tobacco on the lives and health of the Nepalese is alarming. With a GDP loss of 1.04%, and 19.4% of deaths due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), a large part of Nepalese mortality is attributable to the fact that 31.7% of the population use tobacco products.

from Anjana Lamichhane

Legal battles have been fought and 90% pictorial health warnings are now in place, but despite a commendable step in raising the excise tax in the last two years, taxation remains below recommended levels. Research that shows a negligible (0.33%) prevalence of illicit cigarettes challenges existing debates. The government's ongoing trust in the tobacco industry's claims of illicit trade, and concerns about the industry's economic impact hinders further tax increases. Evidence and measures presented by advocates are ignored. For a tobacco-free future, Nepal must prioritise evidence-based policies, increase taxation, monitor the industry more closely, and ensure effective implementation of adequate control policies.