…due to limited stocks

Yangchen C Rinzin

Bhutan Duty Free Limited (BDFL) will be dispatching tobacco products to other dzongkhags from today. New stock was brought from Phuentsholing on August 15 and was kept for 24-hour quarantine as per the health’s safety protocols.

Following the decision to distribute tobacco products in Thimphu from August 14, several people from other dzongkhags were left disgruntled calling on the government, on social media, to make the product available in dzongkhags outside Thimphu.

Messages started pouring in various social media platforms with some accusing the government of considering the interests of those in the capital city only.  Desperate, after running out of tobacco, some even called the numbers given for Thimphu residents to order cigarettes and requested them to send to the dzongkhags.

A smoker in Trashigang said that he had only five sticks of cigarettes left and he has been smoking judiciously so that it lasts till he gets to order and buy from the duty free outlets.

Finance minister Namgay Tshering said that they would first distribute to the western region and then to other regions in phases because of the limited stocks.

“We’ll have to get new stocks to dispatch to other regions. We’re trying to get new stock but with Phuentsholing declared red zone, it has been difficult.”

Lyonpo said that whatever stock they had exhausted in two days after more than 3,000 people ordered for the tobacco products in Thimphu. “This is despite reducing tobacco quota.”

Tobacco users can order only two boxes of cigarettes (each box has 200 sticks). Currently, there are 11 types of cigarettes for sale from the BDFL outlets.

Depending on the brand of the product, cost for a box of cigarettes ranges between Nu 3,610 and Nu 5,550. The tobacco products are delivered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in Thimphu.

For the rest of the dzongkhags, the Covid-19 task force in respective dzongkhag will arrange for delivery.

Lyonpo said that this was just an interim measure to stop people from breaking the quarantine rules and do not intend to promote the use of tobacco. “The initiative is to rationalise, taking into consideration the habitual need of the individuals.”

BDFL sold 673 boxes of cigarette as of yesterday in Thimphu.