Smoking tobacco and tobacco products in public places is a violation, the Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority (BNCA) called out to the heads of organisations recently.
The authority stated that there has been an increase in people smoking in public places.
The Tobacco Act also prohibits the advertisement of tobacco and tobacco products through any medium. Display of tobacco products on any business premises will be considered an advertisement of tobacco products, which is punishable by law.
With the shortage of human resources, it is unable to monitor public places, No Smoking zones, including entertainment centres throughout the country according to the authority. The authority requested competent agencies to intensify and monitor to protect the health of the nonsmokers.
The organisations are asked to declare their own premises as non-smoking areas or designate smoking rooms. However, the smoking rooms should have closable doors, exhaust fans, and ventilation, no leakage of smoke into the adjacent rooms, there should be signage, fire extinguisher, and health warnings.
Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the Tobacco Act was amended during the pandemic and only trading and import are allowed. The rest remains as it is.
He said Bhutan never banned importing and smoking tobacco. People were allowed to import tobacco for personal consumption within permissible amounts by declaring them to customs.
“However, smoking in public places was prohibited.”
Lyonchhen said to monitor people smoking in public places is the responsibility of law enforcement agencies.
BNCA officials said that their inspectors are always in the field. They will also be visiting places like automobile workshops for sensitisation and inspections.
Religious organisations, commercial centres, recreation centres, public gatherings, institutions, public transportation, public spaces, and private vehicles are no smoking areas.
Agencies and institutions failing to display ‘No Smoking’ signs will be liable for a fine of Nu 1,000, Nu 500 for smoking in the restricted area, and the person in charge of the place will be liable for a fine of Nu 1,000 per person smoking at the place.
A Thimphu resident said it was annoying to see people smoking along the road permeating smoke to others walking around. “It is agitating when people smoke in the places where children are around.”
Another resident said that he sees people smoking everywhere every day but never heard of them being penalised. “People have the right to smoke but should respect non-smokers by not smoking everywhere.”
Meanwhile, RBP is asked for better coordination according to Prime Minister’s Office.