Defending Comprehensive Tobacco Control Policy Implementation in Nepal From Tobacco Industry Interference (2011–2018) (2020)

Authors: Dharma N Bhatta et al.


Introduction: Nepal passed a comprehensive tobacco control law in 2011. Tobacco control advocates successfully countered tobacco industry (TI) interference to force implementation of law.

Aims and Methods: Policy documents, news stories, and key informant interviews were triangulated and interpreted using the Policy Dystopia Model (PDM).

Results: The TI tried to block and weaken the law after Parliament passed it. Tobacco control advocates used litigation to force implementation of the law while the TI used litigation in an effort to block implementation. The TI argued that tobacco was socially and economically important, and used front groups to weaken the law. Tobacco control advocates mobilized the media, launched public awareness campaigns, educated the legislature, utilized lawsuits, and monitored TI activities to successfully counter TI opposition.

Conclusions: Both tobacco control advocates and the industry used the discursive and instrumental strategies described in the PDM. The model was helpful for understanding TI activities in Nepal and could be applied to other low- and middle-income countries. Civil society, with the help of international health groups, should continue to track TI interference and learn the lessons from other countries to proactively to counter it.

Implications: The PDM provides an effective framework to understand battles over implementation of a strong tobacco control law in Nepal, a low- and middle-income country. The TI applied discursive and instrumental strategies in Nepal in its efforts to weaken and delay the implementation of the law at every stage of implementation. It is important to continuously monitor TI activities and learn lessons from other countries, as the industry often employ the same strategies globally. Tobacco control advocates utilized domestic litigation, media advocacy, and engaged with legislators, politicians, and other stakeholders to implement a strong tobacco control law. Other low- and middle-income countries can adapt these lessons from Nepal to achieve effective implementation of their laws.

Read more: Nicotine & Tobacco Research