BNCA collects Nu 32,000 in fines in 3 days from smokers smoking in public areas in Thimphu

Usha Drukpa/ Thimphu

Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority (BNCA) collected Nu 32,000 within three days from the individuals found smoking in public places and the failure of the person-in-charge, after the government’s directives to penalize them.

BNCA inspectors along with Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) went on night inspections on 21 to 22 October and again on 26 October 2022, where 48 people were found smoking in public areas and 7 shops for allowing them to smoke in front of their areas.

The BNCA official said that before imposing penalties, BNCA has been advocating and sensitizing the public and shops, and no individuals were penalized despite being found smoking in public places. Starting from the 21st of October 2022, BNCA has penalized every individual found smoking in public places.

During the field monitoring, a mixed age group of males and females were found smoking in public areas, but the majority were the youth in Thimphu Thromde. Many individuals were found intoxicated, said the BNCA officials.

A maximum number of people smoking in public areas were penalized from Thimphu main town, Changlimithang, and city bus parking. On 21 October, when BNCA inspectors went on inspection, they caught 25 individuals smoking in public areas, followed by 14 individuals and 7 individuals during the three different days, showing that the number of smokers in public areas is reducing.

“We are planning to go on inspections on alternate days,” said BNCA officials.

BNCA 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, shaedras, 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 butt, fire extinguisher and health warnings.

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