In June 2021 the National Assembly was forced to amend the Tobacco Act to allow the legal import and sale of tobacco to reduce the smuggling that was happening at the time.
At the time, the main fear was that this smuggling will bring in COVID-19 since Bhutan’s strategy at the time was zero COVID.
However, today this is no longer an issue and it is high time that the old restrictions be brought back for the sake of the health of our nation.
The result of the open sale, easy availability and lower price of tobacco has meant that people are now smoking openly and freely in public places which did not happen before.
The amendment in the law did not allow for smoking in public places, but the wrong message has gone across and now every area is a smoke zone.
This is a shocking reversal for a country that was globally known and appreciated for its tough stance against tobacco. Now, when other countries are getting tough on smoking, we are moving backwards.
It is now not uncommon to see even young school children puffing away at cigarettes.
As per the WHO, in Bhutan, tobacco kills an estimated 221 people each year which is around 5.7 percent of all deaths.
It is also a fact that lung cancer is the second leading cancer in Bhutan.
Apart from the above smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body.
The above also does not take into account the massively harmful effects of second hand smoke on young children, pregnant women and people in general including even smokers.
The government had promised to make sure that tobacco is not made available everywhere to discourage smokers and tobacco consumers and to make sure that anybody who gets involved in such habits will be accounted for.
Lyonchhen also promised restrictions on smoking in public places and that restrictions on selling tobacco to the minors will be followed, and the government will put in its utmost effort to discourage the consumption of tobacco, but the opposite has happened.
Smoking is hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, and dangerous to the lungs.
King James I