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January 20th, 2017:

Hong Kong Department of Health Tobacco Control Zero Efforts

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Don’t head to Finland if you fancy sitting out on a veranda with a beer and a smoke.

The European country looks set to be the first in the world to become completely cigarette-free. The country originally proposed a goal of being smoke-free by 2040 but new legislation today says the goal can be achieved by 2030.

According to the Nordic version of Business Insider, the government looks set to achieve the health goal by coming down hard on smokers and retailers.

Housing associations can now enforce a smoking ban on balconies and yards belonging to the housing complex. Capsule cigarettes that activate a taste such as menthol or blackcurrant when squeezed are getting banned outright.

Retailers are charged fees for selling nicotine products and the hike in costs means selling smokes is verging on non-profitable.

Finland is the first country in the world to enforce such stringent legislation on smokers. It has been committed to reducing smoking since 1978 when it first banned the advertising of nicotine products. Smoking at the workplace has been banned since 1995 and in bars and restaurants since 2007.

According to Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare, smoking statistics have consistently decreased over the past 20 years. Only 17% of the population consider themselves smokers.

Permit must for tobacco item sale from March 14

As Nepal witnesses an increased burden of non-communicable diseases, the government has ordered the management of separate stores to sell cigarettes and tobacco products from March 14.

Besides, all the shops selling tobacco products should be registered with the Inland Revenue Department and get the licence, as in the case of alcohol products.

A Cabinet decision on Thursday made it mandatory for each store to take permission prior to selling tobacco products. However, these products cannot be sold from groceries or general stores, which sell daily essentials.

Outside each store, a billboard has to be put up with a message that tobacco products will not be sold to people below 18 and pregnant women.

Health Minister Gagan Thapa said the need to curb the sale of tobacco products was important given its massive consumption that comes with negative effects on health, putting strain on hospitals.

In Nepal, non-communicable diseases caused 51 percent of total deaths in 2010 and 60 percent in 2014, according to the Health Ministry. Surveys conducted by the ministry show that cardio-vascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and oral diseases are the major NCDs, all of which directly or indirectly linked to the consumption of tobacco products. The government has been providing subsidies in treatment for patients of cancer and heart diseases, spending as high as Rs1 billion each year.

Questions, however, remain on the effective implementation of Thursday’s decision. In terms of tobacco control rules, Nepal has made some noticeable decisions including the graphic images printed on 90 percent of tobacco packages. All the international tobacco brands entering Nepal have already packaged their products as required while some Nepali products have also followed suit.

The ban on smoking in public places remains ineffective. “The Assistant CDO has been appointed the monitoring officer in each district to look into implementation of the measure,” said Minister Thapa.

Experts warn against E-Cigarette dangers

It’s being seen more often these days: e-cigarettes, or vape pens, is a growing trend among smokers, and a lot of teenagers are vaping as well.

However, experts have a warning about the smokeless alternative, saying there is a big danger that is associated with vape pens.

In burn centers across the country, officials say more and more people are getting hurt, when the devices explode.

“It’s like carrying an M-80 in your pocket,” said Dr. Kevin Foster from the Arizona Burn Center, describing E-Cigarettes that are being used by millions every day.

Foster said prior to 2016, they had no reports of burns related to E-Cigs, but last years, that changed dramatically with 50 separate cases, equaling to approximately one case per week where someone needed treatment for injuries related to exploding e-cigarettes.

Most of the burns are of the second degree, but in several cases, the injuries were much worse, with some needed surgery.

Besides burn injury, experts say those impacted also suffered traumatic injury from the explosion, and possibly chemical injuries from the chemicals inside the battery, considered by Foster to be the culprit. He said because many E-Cigarettes are manufactured overseas, it is hard to determine if these devices and the batteries are safe.

“It’s impossible to look at an E-Cigarette or vaping device, and try to determine if it’s a high quality or low quality,” said Foster.

The dangers mentioned above does not include other, more traditional health concerns associated with tobacco products. While those in the vaping industry argue their products actually control nicotine addiction, doctors at the Arizona Burn Center said they believe none of it is worth the gamble with such devices.

Operators of premises required by law to act against smokers

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