Around 3,000 people called the Bhutan Duty Free Limited (BDFL) to place their orders for tobacco products in Thimphu on the first day of delivery yesterday.
Finance Minister Namgay Tshering said that the initiative was to address the “habitual need” of tobacco users.
Following the Facebook post by the minister, tobacco consumers called BDFL for supply. Some said that the line was busy all the time.
A smoker in Thimphu said that the mobile numbers to place orders for tobacco products was switched off. “The initiative is useless if our calls are not received,” she said.
An official from BDFL said that there were seven officials attending to the calls. Each of them received about 400 calls yesterday.
The official said that tobacco users can order only two boxes of cigarettes (each box has 200 sticks). Currently, there are 11 types of cigarettes for sale from BDFL.
Depending on the brand of the product, the official said, the cost for a box of cigarettes ranges between Nu 3,610 and Nu 5,550.
The tobacco products would be delivered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Lyonpo said. However, orders can be placed on any day.
Lyonpo said that upon consultation with the National Covid-19 Taskforce, tobacco products from Phuentsholing would be brought to Thimphu after which it would be delivered to other dzongkhags.
Lyonpo in his Facebook post said that the initiative is an interim measure. “This in no way intends to promote the use of tobacco nor willingly intends to breach the legal provisions,” he said.
Chewing tobacco (BABA) will be delivered from Monday.