Bhutan’s U-turn on tobacco ban
Bhutan’s second parliament is likely to set the history of ‘ban lift’ as it takes steps to do so one after another. Very recently the country lifted ban on import of furniture and alcohol.
Now the country’s Upper House resolves that ban on import of tobacco must end. In a majority resolution on Monday (3 February 2014), the house said ban on import and sale of tobacco products must end to control the black market.
Bhutan had gained fame for being the first country to completely ban on manufacturing, import and sale of any tobacco products. However, the government also received harsh criticism for sending a monk behind bar for years on charge of carrying tobacco products worth Nu 120.
After public outcry over the harshness of the law, the first elected parliament of the country showed some leniency towards tobacco consumers. Many send to jail for selling tobacco were subsequently released on king’s order.
Now, the National Council comes with proposal that the import ban must end, though the resolution says ban must continue on production of tobacco products within the country.
18 out of 25 council members supported the proposal submitted by council’s Legislative Committee that supply and distribution of tobacco products should be permitted.
However, the resolution should pass through the National Assembly before it becomes the law.
Current Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay was one of the foremost advocate of ending ban on tobacco imports. He had said the amendment the former parliament made was inadequate.
Now his party has majority in the National Assembly. If he remains by his words, which he rarely did, ban on import and sale of tobacco products should end shortly.