Nepal to ban smoking in public places

Nepal is to ban smoking in restaurants, bars and other public places and outlaw all tobacco advertising to try to deter young people from taking up the habit, the government said Tuesday.

A new anti-smoking bill will also make it illegal for anyone under 16 to smoke, and introduce compulsory health warnings on cigarette packets, health ministry official Bal Sagar Giri told AFP.

"More and more young people are being lured by attractive tobacco advertising. That has to end," he said.

"It is high time we had a strict enforcement of law that regulates tobacco use and punishes offenders."

Giri said the bill, currently being debated in parliament, would also introduce fines of 5,000 rupees (70 dollars) for individual offenders and 100,000 rupees for tobacco companies.

The government estimates that 15,000 people die every year of smoking-related diseases in Nepal, one of the world's poorest countries.

Globally, tobacco kills five million people annually, according to the World Health Organization, with deaths expected to hit 10 million a year in two decades, 70 percent of those being in developing nations.

In 2006, Nepal's Supreme Court ordered the government to ban smoking in public places and outlaw tobacco advertisements in broadcast media, but the ruling has never been implemented.

The new bill bans smoking in all enclosed public places including government offices, schools, hospitals and restaurants.

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