Jigmi Wangdi

The Drug and Controlled Substance Division (DCSD) has resumed planned and random inspections to ensure that people abide by the rules that prohibit smoking in public and other restricted places.

Since November last year, 98 people in Thimphu have been fined for breaching the regulations. Of the total, 89 were fined for smoking in no-smoking areas and 9 for “failure of person in charge”. “Failure of person in charge” means owners or managers of entertainment centres failed to adhere to strict regulations.

Regulations prohibit smoking in public areas, private vehicles, schools and monasteries, among others.

DCSD is responsible for overseeing the compliance of tobacco consumption and controlling narcotic substances.

An official from DCSD said that the division does not monitor the number of tobacco products imported and sold in the country. “Our main function is to create compliance among smokers so that they do not break the law by smoking in non-smoking areas or in public areas.”

He said that if inspectors find anyone smoking outside designated areas, the offender is fined Nu 500 for noncompliance.

“We keep records of offenders,” the official said. “DCSD will seize repeat offenders’ CID cards and will be reprimanded.”

Places like offices, institutions and organisations should have designated smoking rooms, the official said. “Smoking rooms must be enclosed with an exhaust fan and ashtrays to deter second-hand smoking.”

Entertainment centres must meet the requirements to create smoke-free zones.

“We conduct joint inspections in collaboration with BAFRA, Department of Revenue and Customs, RBP and Department of Trade to ensure that the centres are following the checklist provided by the Entertainment Licensing Committee,” he said.

The entertainment centres must also put up ‘No Smoking’ stickers in areas outside the designated smoking rooms. “Bar owners or individuals in charge will have to take accountability if this requirement is not met.”

“If entertainment centres are not complying with the rules, the owners will face issues in the future while renewing their licence,” the official said.

In the past, Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority (BNCA) faced challenges with the shortage of manpower to conduct timely inspections.

“This is no longer an issue with the merging of BAFRA, BNCA, and Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA),” the official said, adding that inspection also will begin in other dzongkhag soon.

DCSD is part of the newly-formed Bhutan Food and Drug Authority.