In an ongoing tobacco inspection, Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority (BNCA) has collected Nu 299,528 as penalty from shop-owners and individuals from three dzongkhags of Dagana, Tsirang and Gelephu.

During inspection, a shopkeeper in Tsirang was also detained for possessing tobacco products beyond the permissible quantity. The shopkeeper was alleged of possessing 1,460grams of chewing tobacco and 16 packets of bidi.

Officials also imposed penalty on 24 shopkeepers for selling tobacco, 10 individuals for smoking in public places and 21 for failing to display signboard at designated smoking areas.

Most shops illegally selling tobacco products were caught in Gelephu, followed by four in Tsirang and three in Dagana. A majority of the shops, offices and entertainment areas in Tsirang failed to designate a smoking room.

BNCA officials said that although it has been more than 10 years since the Tobacco Control Act came into effect, people still claim that they were not aware of it.

“With so much awareness on tobacco control and its illegal possession, ignorance of the law cannot be accepted as an excuse,” an official said. “We’re serious and we’re not sparing anyone.”

In Gelephu, 17 shops were imposed a penalty of Nu 35,000 each for selling tobacco products, four shops were penalised with Nu 10,000 fine each for not putting up ‘No Smoking’ signs. Five individuals paid Nu 500 each for smoking in public places.

The team was in Dagana on February 20 and slapped a fine of Nu 6,120 each on three shops for illegal possession of tobacco products. Another 10 shops were penalised Nu 10,000 each for not putting up ‘No Smoking’ signs.

In Tsirang, four shops paid Nu 42,408 as penalty for illegally possessing a tobacco product, five individuals were fined for smoking in public places and seven shops were penalised for not putting up ‘No Smoking’ signs.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang