Going out of control

The Tobacco Control Act is going out of control.

The Thimphu district court sentenced Gelong Sonam Tshering, a monk, to 3 years in prison for possessing a mere 48 packets of chewing tobacco. He appealed to the High Court. But the High Court has upheld the 3-years prison sentence.

Countless others – I’ve lost count … really – are in detention or undergoing trail in various parts of the country. We’re told that there are a couple of tobacco smugglers among them. But all the others were caught with small amounts of tobacco, obviously meant for their personal consumption.

And today, the Paro district court sentenced three men to jail for three years each. Their crime: they were caught smuggling ten packets of cigarettes.

Ten packets of cigarettes, just ten packets – that’s how much most smokers consume in ten days – and three people are going to jail for a total of nine years!

I called the Tobacco Control Act draconian. It’s much worse. It’s utter madness.

Amend the Tobacco Control Act.  And stop this madness before our people go out of control.

 

Facebook Comments:

Comments

  1. Dont try to instigate people again.

  2. Palden, People are not instigated. People are concerned . If you see the Amend the Tobacco act page on facebook, you will realize, there’s no need to instigate. Instead there’s a serious need for the Government to do something about it.
    Do you even realize how much the Govt. is losing in imprisoning an officer and engineer or for that matter even a simple monk.
    Just forget the expenses that will be incurred to keep them in prison, but imagine the amount of money that has been invested to train them.
    forget that, do you realize how much the family members of each of these individuals is going through.
    So what if people smoke and consume tobacco? So what? its their own money they are spending.
    Unlike the sucking MPs who can think nothing better than their own benefits.
    and just stop blaming and look at it objectively. If not empathize with people who are suffering right now. And yet if you can’t do that too… just shut up !!!

  3. Bikash Chhetri says:

    Bold and matter of fact statements…the law should be revised. And we are happy that the opposition is finally finding the voice. Govt. finally has some checks and balance..

  4. Thinlay says:

    Please read this:
    “Laws are only way to stop smoking, say CDC officials (China Daily)
    Updated: 2011-05-27 08:08

    Interference from tobacco industry seen as hindrance

    BEIJING – Voluntary smoking controls have been ineffective in China and laws and regulations are the only effective way to stop people lighting up, according to a report released in Beijing on Thursday.

    The 2011 China Tobacco Control Report was released by the tobacco control office under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), just ahead of the 24th World No Tobacco Day on May 31.

    Voluntary smoking controls were a compromise advocated by the tobacco industry in the face of public pressure and criticism, according to Liang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the China CDC. The voluntary measures have proved ineffective, not only in China but in other countries as well, Liang said.

    Smoke-free environments can only be created through mandatory constraints, according to the report. Compared to voluntary no-smoking policies, strict laws and regulations are more equal and comprehensive in their coverage, with enforcement being a key factor in whether or not they are effective, the report said.

    Harbin, the capital of Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, passed one of China’s first secondhand smoke-prevention laws on the same day that the report was released.

    According to the report, China has more than 300 million smokers. About 740 million people, including 180 million children and teenagers, are affected by secondhand smoke, the report said.

    Progress on the issue has been “slow” ever since China ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which took effect in 2006, according to Yang Gonghuan, deputy director of the China CDC.

    Deaths caused by smoking-related illnesses are predicted to triple to 3.5 million a year by 2030, according to a health report released in January.

    The report, Tobacco Control and China’s Future, blames the tobacco industry’s interference in government policy-making for the lack of substantial progress on tobacco control in China during the past five years.

    Yang said government authorities have largely had positive reactions to the report.

    In February, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television ordered film and television producers to restrict the number of smoking scenes in their productions and completely eliminate scenes that show specific brands of tobacco or that show minors using tobacco products.

    In March, the Chinese government included smoking bans in public places in its 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), indicating that more changes may be on the way.

    A national regulation banning indoor smoking took effect on May 1, but it has been derided as being too weak because of a lack of relevant penalties.

    “Since controlling smoking has been included in China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, tasks and responsibilities will specifically be assigned to relevant departments, which will expedite progress in smoking control,” said Yang.

    Xinhua

    My comment: of course penalty for tobacco smokers and dealers may be bit harsh in our tobacco control Act; nevertheless we need some control—may be through education and awareness and less harsher penalties for defaulter.

  5. Penalty is harsh. 3 years to jail means destroying him/her life.

  6. Dear OL,

    I am with you on this,”Amend the Tobacco Control Act. And stop this madness before our people go out of control”

    Something is seriously wrong with this ACT.

  7. Thinlay says:

    Hi,
    Good news. I just read kuensel and it is reported that rules under Tobacco Act is amended. Now, it appears that first time offender without tax receipt for tobacco for personal use will be taxed 200% with warning and disclosure of identity. if same offender is caught second time, offender will be subjected to harsh rule. Rule for large scale smuggler remains same. I think it is an improvement and i hope people engaged in personal habit of smoking and chewing will be relieved.

    I hope offenders under the act who are now charged in the court will be given clemency and set free with some warning. I too feel sad when people are imprisoned for personal habit and choice. But this does not mean that smoking or chewing is good for personal health and society at large.

    Cheers

  8. Hon’ble OL,
    I have no comment on smugglers being punished for not abiding by the law no matter how much the amount. I believe if the law says we should not smuggle, everyone must follow until it changes. However, I feel that it’s unfair to jail chuma for as long as the other two. We all know that in a military rule, one could not question a superior’s order. That chuma in the Paro case was just following his superior’s order.
    I thought hon’ble OL would object to such unfairness, but to my disappointment, you did not. This would have made sense and people would have welcomed it. Otherwise, your stand that the law is draconian does not make sense because, so long the law is there, it is the duty of citizens to follow. I am really disappointed you did not mention a word about that chuma being penalized.
    Kadinche la.

  9. Tokimada says:

    If the govt cannot see reason and amend this bill, which is impacting the general population in a negative way, then it is time to take to the streets and shout and convey the message.

    step down and begone!

  10. the us in all its greatness failed with prohibition..we in bhutan always claim wisdom & progress by learning fm the mistakes of others..then we have the tobacco act..duh??!!

  11. Nothing can be done under the current cirmstances. It is 45 against 2. Let us all be not taken for a ride in 2013 if we msut ammend the Tobacco Act. WE cannot afford to throw ignocent people behind the bar for few packest of cigars or packet of chewing tobacco.

    Tobacco is definitely bad for health but any punishment must be proportionate to crime.

    One of the clauses of Penal Code of Bhutan talks of “Value based Sentencing”. Can this be not applied here?

  12. Dechen Tshering says:

    Hon’ble OL,

    I have been reading your blogs for sometime.It sounds effective and informative to the public.

    In this regard, the Bhutanese populace would be appreciated it if you could voice strongly for Chuma Tshering Jamtsho, RBA. I think Chuma has been sentenced to the 3 years jail without conducting the thorough studies by our Paro court.

    He simply listen to the RBA captain’s order to pick the cigarettes from the Druk Air aircraft.He hasn’t done anything ,,,,,right. Then why chuma Tshering Jamtsho should be jailed. Who is going to look after his family. Its really disgusting scene created by this Tobacco Control Act.

    May god bless Chuma Tshering Jamtsho

  13. why should chuma be considered innocent when he is the main culprit here. he was the one who paid $15 to the engineer and asked for cigratte saying that its for his boss maj karma, the security offr.on his order he had gone inside the cockpit, restricted area to collect it. then he had put the cigarette in his “haymchu”
    delebrately trying to smuggle.one appalling thing is when the cigarette was caught by the custom official he said it belongs to the capt.knowing that maj and custom official is not in good terms.capt is made the scape goat here.capt is at t phu that day, not even present in the airport so the maj and chuma manipulated and managed to put him behind bars.just b cos chuma had to account some amt of money to capt, he used this as money paid to buy cigratte.innocent engineer is also jailed b cos of manipulated work of constable and dasho maj karma.

Trackbacks

  1. […] There are only two opposition MPs in parliament, but Tobgay is emerging as a serious voice of constructive opposition, partly through his blog http://www.tsheringtobgay.com/  and Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/tsheringtobgay  activities. “I called the Tobacco Control Act draconian. It’s much worse. It’s utter madness. Amend the Tobacco Control Act. And stop this madness before our people go out of control,” Tobgay wrote this week.  […]

  2. […] This has unleashed a torrent of complaints on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.  Tshering Tobgay, the parliament’s opposition leader, is emerging as a serious voice of constructive opposition, partly through his blog http://www.tsheringtobgay.com/  and Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/tsheringtobgay  activities. “I called the Tobacco Control Act draconian. It’s much worse. It’s utter madness. Amend the Tobacco Control Act. And stop this madness before our people go out of control,” Tobgay wrote this week.  […]

  3. […] There are only two opposition MPs in parliament, but Tobgay is emerging as a serious voice of constructive opposition, partly through his blog http://www.tsheringtobgay.com/ and Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/tsheringtobgay activities. “I called the Tobacco Control Act draconian. It’s much worse. It’s utter madness. Amend the Tobacco Control Act. And stop this madness before our people go out of control,” Tobgay wrote this week. […]

Leave a Reply