BNCA collects Nu 196,000 in fines during three inspections

Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency (BNCA) along with the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) and other stakeholders has collected a fine of Nu 196,000 in surprise three rounds of inspection carried out in different months.
Deputy Chief Program Officer, BNCA, Tshering Dorji, said that the first inspection was conducted in June, followed by the second inspection on November 28 and the third inspection was carried out on December 4-5.
The team fined smokers caught smoking outside the designated smoking areas in public places and the owners of the places that failed to supervise and carry out the measures to ensure that no person smoked within the premises.
People found smoking outside the designated smoking areas in public places are imposed with a fine of Nu 500 per incident and a person-in-charge is imposed with a fine of Nu 10,000 if he/she fails to supervise and carry out the measures to ensure that no person smoked within the premises.
The inspections were usually carried out during night time, but now there are plans to conduct such inspections during day time in non-smoking zone areas, covering the whole Thimphu. But so far, the team could only cover central Thimphu and south Thimphu areas.
The initiative to conduct the inspection during day time was initiated on November 28 starting from morning 9 am to 6 pm.
“The total fine amount collected on that day (November 28) was Nu 41,000. 22 people were fined Nu 500 each for smoking in non-smoking areas while 3 persons-in-charge were fined Nu 10,000 each for failing to supervise and carry out the measures to ensure that no person smoked within the premises,” Tshering Dorji said.
On inspection on December 4, the team targeted commercial centers, which include restaurants, bars, shopping complexes, supermarkets, and recreation centers, like discotheques, snooker rooms, health clubs and entertainment hubs.
During the inspection that lasted for more than 9 hours on December 4, the BNCA team collected Nu 84,000 in fines from 29 person and 7 persons-in-charges (restaurants and bars).
“Our purpose was also to check the smoking room because, as per the law, restaurants and bars are allowed to have smoking rooms, but with proper ventilations and display notices indicating smoking is prohibited in all the other areas,” Tshering Dorji said.
However, BNCA team found poorly marked and ventilated smoking rooms in most recreational places. “For those, we have warned verbally but if found the same during the next inspection then they are liable for person-in-charge fine of Nu 10, 000,” he said.
On December 5, the team carried out a surprise inspection in Paro, whereby they collected a total amount of Nu 71,000 from 22 persons and 6 persons-in-charge.
Tshering Dorji said, “This is the first inspection carried out after a gap of two years. Before the inspections were done in 2012 and 2013. And we conducted the inspection day and night starting from 11 in the morning until 9:30 pm.”
He pointed out the challenges faced by the team such as coming across angry and defensive people. But he said, the team does not get intimidated by the rowdy and often violent crowd as the law is on their side.
Tshering Dorji said that with the recent regular inspections, people are mindful about violating the law and some changes can be seen within the public.
The team also carries out inspection on public transportation, which includes all buses, taxis, forms of motor vehicles and aircrafts for passenger transport, and in institutions, like offices (private and government), training centers, dzongs and in public gatherings.
There are plans to apply the initiatives in all 20 dzongkhags, as and when they get manpower to do so.
“As a part of our ongoing drive to reduce the harmful effects of tobacco and also to ensure effective compliance to the Tobacco Control Amendment Act of Bhutan 2014, the inspection team will continue with regular surprise inspection to monitor the compliance of the provisions of the Act, henceforth,” Tshering Dorji said.

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