An inspection to monitor the public compliance to the provisions of tobacco and drug law fined 34 individuals for smoking in public, six for illegal possession of tobacco.

An in-charge of an entertainment centre was also fined for lack of a designated smoking room.

The joint inspection was carried out by the officials of Bhutan Narcotic Control Authority (BNCA), departments of trade, customs and revenue, thromde, and police.

Those apprehended smoking in public were fined Nu 500 each. The in-charge of an entertainment centre was fined Nu 1,000 for allowing people to smoke in the public space.

Bars and entertainment centres without ‘no smoking’ signboards are liable to pay Nu 10,000 fine.

Assistant programme officer with BNCA, Bhim Bdr Poudyel, said the in-charge of an entertainment centre could also be charged for not having a proper smoking room in the entertainment area. He added that even as the owners of business firms are aware, most do not abide by the rules.

Regulatory officer with department of trade, Phub Tshering, said that if the inspectors discover business owners selling tobacco, their business licence would be cancelled. “Selling and buying of the tobacco products is illegal. If we find anyone doing it, we will cancel their licence without a warning,” he added.

However, not a single licence has been cancelled as of now.

As of July 14, BNCA intercepted 41 cases related to noncompliance tobacco control rules and collected fine amount of Nu 36, 820. Revenue and customs officials provide receipt to the defaulters and keep record of the fines collected.

BNCA inspector Sangay Tenzin said that amount collected would be deposited as government revenue.

Bhim Bdr Poudyel said that the inspection is aimed at reducing tobacco demand in the country. “Because students are also on a break, there is a need for heightened inspection.”

He added that inspection is done once a month in the capital where drug and tobacco use is recorded the highest.

This year, between January and February, BNCA with the help of dzongkhag officials carried out inspection in Wangdue, Bumthang, Phuentsholing, Gelephu, Trongsa, Trashigang, Samdrupjongkhar and Trashiyangtse.

Inspection in Thimphu that began July 10 will end on July 28.

Phurpa Lhamo