New provision in Nepal that requires manufacturers to print health warning graphics and texts in at least 75% of principal display area of tobacco products packaging goes into effect first week of May

KATHMANDU, Nepal , June 11, 2014 () – Manufacturers of cigarette and tobacco products have expressed dissatisfaction over a new provision that requires them to print health warning graphics and texts in at least 75 percent of principal display area of tobacco products.

The new provision came into effect from the first week of May. Though the provision introduced two years ago, the government started strict implementation of the provision only recently.

Manufacturers of cigarettes and tobacco products have urged the government to reduce the area dedicated to health warning information in the packaging of tobacco products, saying that it would only mislead general consumers. "Only around 30-40 percent of the packaging is allocated for including health warning information as per the international practice. But the government has asked us to dedicate 75 percent of the packaging for the purpose," Suresh Pokharel, general secretary of Nepal Tobacco Association (NTA), told Republica.

As many as 50 tobacco producers are affiliated with NTA.

Saying that more than 50 percent of the market of tobacco products is covered by Indian products containing health warning in only 50 percent of the packaging, Pokharel said the new provision directly affects the domestic tobacco producers. Pokharel also said the demand for Indian tobacco products has increased manifolds after the new provision was enforced in Nepal as packaging of Indian brands in less disturbing.

"If the government wants to dedicate 75 percent of the packaging for health warning information, it should also ask foreign brands to adhere to the new provision. Only then our products will be competitive," he added.

Pokharel also said the government should encourage domestic tobacco industry which pays taxes worth around Rs 2 billion annually.

Prabin Mishra, secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population, said the government has already put ban on tobacco products containing health warning information in less than 75 percent of the principal display area in the packaging. "But the market is receiving tobacco products not adhering to the provision from India because of the open border," he added.

Mishra also said the government was preparing to hold talks with India to maintain uniformity in packaging of tobacco products. He, however, reiterated that the government won't reduce the area dedicated for health warning information.

Meanwhile, Hari Narayan Belbase, director at the Department of Commerce and Supply Management (DoCSM), said the government should first maintain uniformity between packaging of domestic products and the imported ones. "Only then the government should focus on market monitoring," he added. Published by HT Syndication with permission from Republica.

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