English | Dzongkha Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Grocery and ‘pan’ shops will be allowed to sell tobacco, BNCA


Aug 3, 2021

More than 11 years after the Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan came into effect, the ban on the sale of tobacco and tobacco products is lifted in the country as an interim measure. This was done to stop the smugglers from bringing in new infections along with tobacco across the porous border. According to the Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority’s notification, all grocery shops and ‘pan’ shops will be allowed to sell tobacco products. However, dealers and sellers must keep daily records of tobacco and tobacco products imported and distributed.

The Tobacco Control Act has never been perfect. It has instead given birth to a booming black market for tobacco in the country. Tobacco continues to pour into the country even after the closure of the border. The country is forced to fight two battles; the pandemic and the smuggling. This has led lawmakers to amend the Act as an interim measure during its last parliament session.

As per the Tobacco Control (Amendment) Act of Bhutan 2021 which came into force last month, the sale of tobacco and tobacco products will be allowed in the country. However, the sale of tobacco and tobacco products near schools, hospitals, clinics, BHUs, monasteries, Dzongs and heritage sites are not allowed.

According to the notification, the only entities allowed to import the tobacco products are authorized tobacco shops and tobacco wholesale dealers. They are not, however, permitted to advertise or exhibit tobacco and tobacco products on counters or in any other media.

The notification further states that the sale of tobacco and tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited, and that the sellers must ask for the buyer’s identification card or evidence of age.

Additionally, sellers will not be permitted to offer loose cigarette stocks in order to discourage curious and experimental attempts by individuals.

Meanwhile, the Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority will continue to penalize and fine those who smoke in public areas, institutions and offices, public transportation, and entertainment centres.

Pema Seldon Tshering

Edited by Sonam

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