Govt urged to lift ban on publicity of alcohol, tobacco products

This image shows the building of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in Singha Durbar, Kathmandu. Photo courtesy: MoICT

KATHMANDU: Media and several organisations have urged the government to lift the ban imposed on advertisement and publicity of alcohol and tobacco products.

The statement issued by the Advertisement Board under the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, prohibiting the production, distribution and publicity of advertising material including alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco products that adversely affect public health has drawn the attention of several organisations.

The Advertising Association of Nepal (AAN), Nepal Media Society, All Nepal Football Association (ANFA), Media alliance and Nepal Alcohol and Tobacco Industries organisations issued a joint statement responding to the statement issued by the Advertisement Board.

The statement said that it is almost impossible for any one country to stop its advertisement and publication.

“It is well known that alcohol is supplied to Nepal from all over the world. Even though liquor producers are not allowed to advertise in Nepal, there is still an option to promote Nepali consumers by advertising through foreign media or social media. According to the law, Nepali producers, advertising agencies or Nepali media are not allowed to advertise liquor in any place and medium but the fact that foreign brands are allowed to continuously promote their brand through foreign media or agencies will affect domestic investment and brand as well. It is certain that the business will collapse due to its impact on employment,” read the statement.

The unilateral decision not to advertise only without deciding the method of regulating Nepali industries and products will have an adverse effect on the advertising business and will have a negative impact on the economy of the country as a whole, the organisations stated.

Advertising has become a consumer choice with major modifications to the global definition and role of advertising. However, it is unfortunate that such a statement has been issued by a government body such as the Advertising Board for the greater good of the advertising business, thus frustrating the consumer’s right to be informed, the statement said.

The ward’s interventionist decision has added to Nepal’s business sector, which has been plagued by the coronavirus epidemic for the past two years.

The organisation expressed objections to the ban on advertisements, citing the Public Health Act, before the enactment of the Advertising Regulations, instead of setting clear procedures in the Advertising Act.

“The great contribution of liquor companies in the development of art, culture and various sports in Nepal should not be forgotten. It is important for the government to understand that such provisions will promote an import-oriented economy, even if it is the government’s policy to focus on a productive economy,” said the statement.

The liquor industry contributes 17% to the annual revenue of the country while banks and financial institutions have invested millions in advertising agencies and manufacturing industries.

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