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Aug 10, 2011

Thou shalt not smoke: Nepal's anti-smoking law as I see it

I have mentioned in my earlier posts time and again that Nepalese government doesn't really care if you may die in the hands of a criminal but it surely is concerned that you may die of cancer caused through smoking cigarettes. In it's noble attempt to save its citizens from themselves, the government has taken two new measures:
  • Has made it mandatory for cigarette companies to include anti-smoking messages in the cover of every cigarette pack. And such messages are supposed to cover 75% of the cover area:
In case you didn't know smoking could create health hazards and even cause cancer and if you were worried that you could accidentally smoke cigarettes and die, you needn't worry anymore. Every time you buy a pack of cigarettes , you'll know.Thank the government , you can afford to be naive now!
  • Has banned smoking in public places.And the so called public places include government offices, educational institutions, airports, public transport, children homes, old-age homes, public toilets, work places at industries and factories, cinema halls or theaters, hotels, motels, restaurants, bars, hostels, guest houses, stadiums, fitness centers, department stores, mini markets,religious places, bus stops and ticket counters:
Source: http://www.abc.net.au/
I am racking my brains to figure out , how come hotels, motels, restaurants, bars, guest houses, fitness centers are public places? Last time I checked , they used to belong to private individuals and whether to allow smoking in their premises or not depended on the owner and the wishes of the costumers. Since religious places will also see the banning of smoking, I see a tough time ahead for Babaji's. I hope they will consider giving up smoking for the greater good of the society.

I am also wondering who will punish the guilty ones and who charges the fines and if we have enough of Shepherds for the 30 million sheep? But Shanta Lal Mulmi maalik, whose Resource Centre for Primary Health Care (RCPHC) played the pivotal role in pressuring the government to pass the anti-tobacco Act says he has the solution to the problem. Mobilize the city police to follow every smoker around and check if he/she smokes in a public place. That's a very good idea and you're nothing short of a genius. You correctly assumed that city police has done all it could to save our lives and properties and now is lying around doing nothing! What better job to give them than implement the law of such primary importance.

But I am very happy for some of my friends who are overjoyed at the thought of never having to stand beside a smoker and inhale secondhand smoke and are thanking the government for this noble deed. I just hope their belief turns out to be true and they won't have to inhale smoke while running for life when "Pashurams" (oh I meant 'Parshuram' but 'Pashuram' has a better ring to it, doesn't it?) are coming after them as the policemen are busy chasing the smokers.

Source: http://www.chroniccandy.com
I also hope they won't realize someday that acts like this which sound as good as apple pie, do more harm than good by providing a new avenue for corruption for the police personnels and nothing else. Unclear laws and acts are another words for "opportunities for corruption". I have faith that editor sa'ab at Republica will someday realize that when we too often remark "we have very good policies , it's only the implementation that's not happening in Nepal", we should also consider the question if policies/laws (such as this and trust me we have tons of them) which are next to impossible to implement are good laws/policies at all? And if in its attempt to garner cheap popularity, the government isn't turning into The Boy Who Cried Wolf day after day?