Bound for a ban lift history is the second parliament in Bhutan. After the country has revoked the ban on the importation of alcohol and furniture, the Upper House is now making its mind on lifting the tobacco import ban in the country.
A majority resolution last Monday, February 3rd, was reached and according to the Upper House, the ban on the importation of tobacco products as well as the sale ban must be ended so that the tobacco black market may be controlled.
First Country To Completely Ban Tobacco Products
The country of Bhutan was famed for being the first country to have a complete ban on the manufacturing, sale and importation of tobacco products. Bhutan was likewise criticized when it decided to imprison a monk for years because of carrying tobacco products with Nu 12 value.
The harsh law received a public outcry so the first elected Bhutan parliament decided to show some compassion to the tobacco users and consumers. Following the king’s order, many of those who were imprisoned due to charges of selling tobacco were later released and freed.
The National Council now comes with this proposal on ending tobacco import ban. Yet, the resolution indicates that the ban on tobacco product productions in the country must still be restricted and prohibited.
Out of the 25 council members, 18 have expressed support for the proposal that was submitted by the legislative committee. This proposal indicates permitting the supply and the distribution of tobacco products.
The process is not yet done for the proposal to be effective. It still needs to be decided in the National Assembly before finally becoming a law. In fact, the current Prime Minister of Bhutan, Tshering Tobgay, is among the leading advocates of lifting tobacco import ban. According to him, the former parliament’s amendment was insufficient.
Too Much Restriction Gives Way To Black Market
Indeed, too restrictive tobacco prohibitions will serve like an abrupt withdrawal from tobacco that a forced suicide for tobacco users. If they cannot purchase tobacco products in the stores where they usually get them, they will look for other ways to obtain what they need.
With the dependence so intense, they will resort to buying cigarettes albeit illegally. Thus, the black market for tobacco will be given the opportunity to grow and thrive. However, if smokers in Bhutan have an access to ecigarettes, they might not anymore need to buy cigarettes from the black market. They could switch to vaping to satisfy their cravings without worrying of cigarette smoke risks or allowing black market to thrive.
About Bhutan And Tobacco
The kingdom is the last existing Mahayana Buddhist kingdom in the world. It used to be isolated from the rest of the world, but started opening its doors in the early 1960s to the outside world.
Buddhism is the foundation of Bhutan’s development, architecture, literature and all aspects of its society. Tobacco is not particularly mentioned in the old Buddhist texts and religion is not specifically intolerant.
Tobacco control in the country is something different and unique compared to other countries’ tobacco control. Tradition, culture and religion are all forces in the fight against tobacco. Small and isolated, the country has never been a target by the tobacco companies.
Yet, smoking is such a powerful addiction that affects anyone, regardless of age, gender, culture or religion. It matters not if you live on mountains or on plain grounds, once smoking lures you, it can be a hard habit to end.
Where there are smokers, there are sellers and vendors. If legal sellers are outlawed, illegal sellers will then come out in order to cater to the existing tobacco demands. Thus, the parliament and law makers in the country are considering more lenient was in order to address the issue of tobacco and smoking.
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