BFDA collects Nu 73,500 in fines from 119 individuals for smoking in public places in Feb and March 2023

Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority (BNCA), now referred to as Bhutan Food and Drug Regularity Authority (BFDA), collected Nu 73,500 in fines in February and March 2023 from individuals found smoking in public places and the failure of the person-in-charge.

An official from BFDA said 119 individuals were fined for smoking in public places and 14 entertainment centers were penalized for not complying with the rules.

The official said they have advocated and sensitized 32 hardware shops not to sell inhalants and solvents to minors because there are chances that minors may misuse these products. In addition, they have also been creating awareness to refrain from displaying tobacco products in the shops as well as to the wholesale dealers. This is because displaying tobacco products is considered as advertising the products. So far, they have advocated to more than 300 shops in Thimphu.

The official said first-time offenders are not fined but sensitized on not allowing the tobacco products to be displayed in shops or that individuals must not smoke in public places

As per the observation reported by the BFDA inspectors, smoking in public places has decreased compared to the past because of sensitization and also with support from the public.

The official said at the beginning of the year, people were found smoking in non-smoking areas as most of the people misunderstood that they can smoke tobacco products freely when the government announced the legalization of buying and selling of tobacco products.

During the 47th Meet-The-Press, the Prime Minister said the Tobacco Control Act is amended but that does not allow smokers to smoke in public places and the regulations stand for the same.

The official said people are found smoking in non-smoking areas are mostly in the core town areas. They shared that they still receive complaints. Soon BFDA inspectors will have a surprise inspection in those areas.

The agency is also receiving complaints from other dzongkhags as well. So, therefore they will be visiting other dzongkhags for a surprise inspection.

The inspectors also come across individuals smoking in public places during the field monitoring, who reason that the government has legalized buying and selling of tobacco and if one wants to smoke then where to smoke. They say they require a smoking place.

Smoking in public places trend has been the same, however, whenever the inspectors go on field monitoring, people are alerted and so there are not many people found smoking in public places, but after a few days or months the trend is back to normal.

BFDA is unable to monitor frequently because the agency is also facing a shortage of human resources and there are not many inspectors to go on field monitoring. Currently, there are only four inspectors who go on inspections in Thimphu.

Meanwhile, BNCA/BFDA will impose a fine of Nu 1,000 per incident of failing to display ‘No Smoking’ signs, a fine of Nu 500 per incident of smoking in a non-smoking area, and a fine of Nu 1,000 payable by a person in charge (per person smoking in no-smoking area of the premise). For example, the owner of the bar, restaurant, or any other private place will be liable for a penalty of Nu 1,000 for each smoker for not stopping them.

No person should smoke in commercial centers, recreational centers, public gatherings, institutions, public transportation, public spaces, private vehicles, and Dratshangs, Shedras, and Lhakhangs.

Offices should either declare their entire premises as a Non-Smoking area or designate a Smoking Room with a closable door, exhaust fan for ventilation, no leakage of secondhand tobacco smoke to adjacent rooms, ashtrays or bins filled with sand or other material for the disposal of a cigarette butts, fire extinguisher and health warning signs.

Check Also

Inflation up in February 2024

As the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 0.12 percent increase, the purchasing power of …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *