BNCA: Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency’s (BNCA) inspection yesterday caught 53 people for smoking in public areas and selling tobacco products.

Of the 53 people, Thimphu police detained ten for selling tobacco products. All the ten people are paan shop owners.

BNCA, police and customs fined 35 people for illegal possession of tobacco products and for smoking in public. Eight person-in-charges were fined Nu 1,000 each for failing to supervise and carry out measures to ensure that no person smoked within their premises.

Those found smoking in non-smoking areas are fined Nu 500, and Nu 400 for illegal possession of tobacco product within permissible limit.

The fine imposed to person-in-charges was Nu 10,000, which was reduced to Nu 1,000 per person, after Tobacco Control Board meeting held in Phuentsholing in December last year.

BNCA’s deputy chief programme officer, Dorji Tshering, said that the penalty amount was reduced because the Tobacco Control Board members felt that the fine imposed to person-in-charge is high compared to its offence.

“Board members have the authority to make changes in the rules and regulation as and when needed,” Dorji Tshering said.

However, the fine imposed to person-in-charge will depend on the number of people found smoking in their premises. If two people were found smoking openly in a restaurant, the restaurant owner will be fined Nu 2,000; Nu 1,000 each for a person.

A total of 1,198 bedi sticks, 519 cigarette sticks and 81 packets of baba were seized from the two-day inspection.

Dorji Tshering said that people smoking in public areas has drastically decreased since the first inspection that was carried out in June last year.

A total of Nu 164,100 fine has been collected so far in the capital.

Dechen Tshomo