New year wish

No smoking here

It’s a new year. And starting today, the Tobacco Control Act comes into effect. So if you cultivate or harvest, manufacture, supply or distribute tobacco and tobacco products, you’ll be jailed for at least three years and up to five years.

If you possess tobacco, and if you can’t prove that you’ve imported it for your own consumption, you’ll be jailed for at least one year and up to three years, but only if you reveal from where you got your tobacco. If you don’t reveal your source, you’ll receive an additional sentence, jailing you for least three more years and up to five more years.

It’s a new year. And I have a new year’s wish: that the first person to be caught and jailed under the Tobacco Control Act is a member of parliament.

That would only be fair, since we, MPs, were the ones who passed this draconian law.

Happy New Year!

 

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  1. I share OL’s sentiments on tobacco Act. Indeed it is one of the most draconian law in the world. I have a habit of chewing Khaini, a habit developed since school days. I hope i wont be the first person to get penalized! If by chance, i am caught and imprisoned i will keep cursing the Act. It is one of the most strongest infringement of personal liberty–And that too in a democratic system. I wish all blog readers and writers a very happy 2011. May god bless you all.

    Cheers

  2. I don’t take tobaco in any form but I am strongly against such stupid law.

  3. The MPs have created a subject of mokery for themselves by passing the tobaco act

  4. The act should be in place to protect the health of peaple

  5. Our country is a democracy (at least for the name sake), but everyday I am starting to feel like I am living in a communist country like North Korea where you are prohibhited to do many things in your life!!

    No smoking.
    No alcohol.
    No discos.
    No drayangs.
    No meats in some months.
    Blah blah blah.

    Looks like our country is becoming an extremist Buddhist country like so many other Muslim extremist nations which are considered rogue states!!

  6. I was a smoker until last night. I had to smoke 5 pieces of cigarettes last night because it was the only time I’d be doing it in my life.

    Democracy comes to Bhutan and instead of freedom we find that there are thousand rules to abide by. Bhutan is a country of many bans. I believe tobacco consumption etc should be left to individual’s choice, after all who doesn’t know its adverse effect on health.

    However, just like there’s two sides to a coin, I’m glad the bill’s been passed, for my own selfish reason; I always wanted to quit but couldn’t do so. I hope I’d be able to do now for the fear of imprisonment.

  7. What will happens if someone buys the tobacco product legitimately ONCE…. and uses that same receipt again and again whenever he/she is caught???? Any way we can identify whether same receipt is being shown more than one time?????

  8. Tashi Gyeltshen says:

    It’s easy to pass the buck to the Laws. Look how the government passed the responsibility of Drayangs to the local government because they couldn’t escape their irresponsible and unscrupulous remarks. When every time the government comes out with a law it shows the lack of efficiency and creativity on their part. Because it is easy to come out with a law instead of intense and effective campaigns. The bar and disco timings will only make people drunk little earlier. Instead since the bars will have to be closed earlier people will drink whatever they have to drink in short span of time and it will have more impact on the drinker’s health. It will neither help in reducing the alcohol consumption nor the crime rates. Keep a watch on the crime rate! We cannot create peace with desolation. We cannot create peace by muffling the voices. We cannot create peace by keeping an idea down. Peace and prosperity comes with truth and fairness. Peace will not come by building cages of laws. There is no such thing as a good law. Every law is evil because it limits the liberty of a person. First you have to be free then only can you fly.

  9. Can you please tell me if there is one MP who smokes or chew tobacco? because i really want to join OL in making this wish come true. What were they thinking when such a decision was made. I wonder if they took a moment sincerely to comprehend the impact of such a law. I believe once a law is passed it must be obeyed and abided by..by passing such laws are we undermining the purpose of having a law. The fact is people will still smoke and find ways and means not to get caught thereby making society participate in criminal activity. This is a law of convenience.

  10. whatTHEfish says:

    Demo-Crazy.. Do the law makers really PRACTICE what they PREACH. My MP friends smoke like hell and yet they agree to such bills.(but its not about them that i am not comfortable with, neither am i a fag fan) Why dont we be more practical, instead of trying to please everyone and set uncommon example. I see everything change in a very short distant future.Mark Me..

  11. Linda Wangmo says:

    MP Tshering Penjo Smokes can someone question him about where he gets his cigs…. I know nobody would ask him…. This stupid law is only for lower income ppl

  12. happy new year says:

    Happy new year. for you happiness is putting the government down under any pretext and excuse. May your wish come true with u as the first MP to be put behind. But that shouldn’t make any difference for you because all you do is scheme and blog against the govt. and your rich friends will be there to smuggle your laptop to you so that you can continue with your blogging as an orange scarf waste.

    I know u smoke but your hypocrisy is so good that u even fool yourself often.

    It is not good and responsible people who make such evil wishes. and u as an MP and wearing a Lyonpos scarf shame us as Bhutanese. Is this how the leader of the Opposition thinks and acts? Aren’t you hoping to be PM and is that how u r going to serve the people? I can see u will do very well coz u will be serving the interest of people like yourself only.

    By the way, do u know how many people are sick and dying in hospitals and silently at home from lung diseases, cancer and a whole lot of sicknesses related to smoking? Do you know how many babies are being born with illnesses that impair their whole life due to having parents who smoke? Also we know that many are victims of passive smoking. whose responsibility are they? Don’t you know that even western democracies are taking inspiration from Bhutan with several states in the US that haven even tougher laws.

    Tough decisions have to be taken and i’m glad that we have a govt with balls to put the people before their own political ends unlike u, who is only worried about the next term and about pleasing your “people”.

    Happy new year once again.

  13. My dear Lyonpo,
    tashi delek la.
    i am so glad that we have someone like u who represents us in the NA. the NA would be such a quiet place without u. who will raise questions of constitutional violation wittout you? i mean we would have no drama and we would die of boredom wihtout our hero.

    we were so worried when we heard that your famous jaw was broken while waving to your admirers – that too in the very place where u really insulted the PM during the sacred coronation celebration in trongsa archery ground.many of us were scared of boring sessions in yur absence. i mean even if u were there, we were so sad about your mouth and jaw being all stiched up. i am sure it was the government that did this to you! if we can prove this, it would be a major, major constitutional offence and we can then have a good case. very exciting one….. we have to take revenge and be even more active to bring DPT down.

    no body can replace you.but now you are back.
    you know lyonpo la, i and your other admirers were so happy when we realized that u actually gained from your broken jaw. you got what is it.. Nu.5 lakhs each from Zimdra (Dasho Ugen Tshechu), Hyundai (dasho Wangchu Dorji) and Kia motors (dasho Ugen somenthing who owns Jumo Lhari hotel). i believe that the importer of General Motors has also made you a very good offering.

    you are so smart la! also you did very well to go to bangkok at govt expense for a facial and some good plastic surgery. we are so happy with your smaller jaw now. u can now buy winter sweaters and turtlenecks that will now allow your jaw to get through without bruising your face. i hope u got good DSA too while in bangkok especially for the massage parlors you visited. you deserve it after all who works harder than u lyonpo la.

    Lyonpo la, could u kidly confirm what u got as i said so that u can gain even more admirers for your honesty and transparency la? or should I reconfirm from them through the papers? i think the journalists will be happy to know and tell about their hero. you are soooo transparent and honest la.

    i hope you got additional bonus after u won the case in High court from the car importers. we must have a big party after you win the case in SC. i will sing for u la.i will wear the pink dress which i stole from my wife.

    lyonpo la, please know that we are always there for you. please tell us how we can help you so that we can bash Bhutan and the government. we must not let the DPT get more popular. i am there for you especially since your own shameless party folks are abandoning u for the wonderful things you do.

    i hope 2011 will be even more exciting with you around.
    your admirer for ever and ever.
    p.s. – please take care of our precious jaw.

  14. Alcoholic says:

    Our leaders need to actively debate in public before such a legislation. I would simply call the Tobacco Act 2010 as a bad law. Why don’t we even care to discuss Alcoholism instead? I wouldn’t ask for such a ban but a strong regulation per se in terms of pricing and licensing. Our policy on production, distribution, import and sale of such products need a serious relook. Most of our budding issues like domestic voilence, substance abuse, traffic infringement & accidents would be solved should we regulate it properly. From the buddhist perspective also, alcoholism is condoned with equal condemnation. Today the abuse of alcohol has become a menace to our country’s developmental philosophy of GNH. Happiness is paramount to all homes.

  15. Dear Admirer,

    Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.

  16. sameer jain says:

    Any such onerous regulation that restricts people’s freedom, forcibly imposes life style changes on others, imposes commerce and enforcement costs needs to be questioned. Also there is a fine line between societal disapproval, decriminalization and outright legalization.

    Ostensibly the reason for such knee jerk paternalistic laws often stems from ‘saving people from their own excesses’, ‘costs of healthcare'( in a welfare state), and highly organized actors with power -folks making legislation, etc etc. People who will object to this law will not be highly motivated and passionate to protest for they feel that ‘such laws will really not be enforced’, until they are.

    When such laws are enforced it creates havoc by way of costs of enforcement, creating corruption when the policeman ‘looks the other way’, smuggling of cigarettes, govt. loosing out on sales tax revenue, invasion of privacy, more role of govet. in peoples lives, and a variety of other unintended consequences. Moreover, it will DETRACT from GNH by making people smokers unhappy! It will create new channels for people to indulge, outrage when indifference becomes real opposition to the law. A very wrong move I saw as a dispassionate observor.

    I will be curious to see 10 reasons in favor of and 10 reasons against this law:). The problem is that 10 reasons agains this law will not find traction in the absence of an organized smokers or cigarette suppliers organized constituency and that’s why these things get enacted into legislation that imposes a lot of societal dead weight loss

  17. True Dukpa says:

    Going by what is happening right now in Bhutan, we are turning into communist form of governance more than democracy.

    1. Laws in Bhutan applies differently. It can differ substantially or insignificantly from one agency to another, from one person to another etc. but, in most instances, Laws; Acts and Rules and Regulations have been manipulative so that it favored certain segment of the population all the time and, sadly this practice continues despite Judiciary, RAA and ACC’s inception and many others. This law will be no different than former ones.

    2. The bottom line is, whatever we write, whatever we speak, wherever we write, it is going to make no difference; power abuse, favoritism, manipulation and all forms of corruption will continue to prevail, poor people will continue to suffer, needy will continue to be deprived of assistance and, no body will do anything about it…..

  18. Democracy is all about decision by majority and once decision is made, I think everyone should respect it whether one is for or against the issue. We have empowered them to make a decision for us and they made it. Now, all of us should just follow it. Whether 1st person caught is minister or mp or student or businessman, it really doesn’t make a difference-somebody just violated the law and deserves punishment. As a citizen and voter, we can express our support or dissatisfy during the election time by way of voting in or out the parliamentarians who made this decision. Until then, let us respect the institution that made the law and follow it whether one agrees or disagrees. Once decided, it is a collective decision.

  19. Dear Admirer,

    You seem to be either a staunch DPT’ian or you bear a unfathomable grudge towards the OL.For whatever reason, I found your comments and allegations very meretricious and your personification at the best.

  20. So now the government has turned smokers, who were only unfortunate nicotine addicts on Dec 31 into criminals, on Jan 1.

    In reality smokers are the victims of the tobacco industry and smoking is an addiction – in other words a medical problem – and it should be treated as such, not as a crime.

    If the govenment sincerely wants people to stop smoking why can’t they, as is done in Europe, provide free nicotine patches and other aids to smokers who want to quit while at the same time educating people about the harm of tobacco and raising taxes on tobacco very high to encourage people to quit.

    If people need help quitting tobacco, nicotine patches and the like aren’t even available for purchase on a Doctor’s prescription in Bhutan. We will simply put these people into jail.

    Criminalizing otherwise law abiding citizens who have a habit which basically harms themselves not others is lunacy.

    Is our democracy simply the tyranny of the majority?

  21. mr ol i think you have taken a very populist line in this debate and populism does not necessarily equate with what is right.

    yes bhutan may have many smokers especially in the urban areas and i guess you are trying to stand up for them. but there are much more who dont smoke and ahve to bear the second hand smoke and its effects especailly in a family where a dad smokes but the health of his children and wife suffer.

    yes drinking is bad but you are doing that to ur self only and not imposing it on others.
    the smoking ban and laws have really help reduced smoking patterns and most importantly it keeps a new generation of school kids away from ciggaretes.

    mr ol you should be more responsible.

  22. Such laws got passed under our so called HONOURABLE Lyonpos and MPS. How scary? .

  23. tamkhumathung says:

    Wai, tosatshu! The Act still allows you to smoke if you must, but, do it so through the right means at the right time and right locations. Just because you have the right to smoke, others have the right to be smoke free and avoid being passive smokers. If you can afford to kill yourselves, do so but spare those around you and if you don’t mind dying, you surely won’t mind spending a few years behind bars and contemplate about living.
    Now, coming to OL’s new year’s wish, I hope that he is not talking about his own friends in the NA and NC who are chain smokers.

  24. “It is one of the most strongest infringement of personal liberty–And that too in a democratic system.”

    But non-control of the tobacco, especially smoking is also infringement of personal liberty, of those who do not use/consume tobacco products. Had our tobacco product consumers understood the right of other people and consumed cautiously, such laws may not have come in place.

    Next, we need similar law for production, business and consumtpion of alcohol. For a clean, healthy, economic and safe environment, alcohol needs to be banned. With alcohol, high percentage of wastes (Cartoon boxes, bottles) are generated. Many public benefit items are damaged/broken (like street lights and dust bins),increasing the government expenditure. The alcohol eats up the liver/lungs of our young citizens increasing the cost of health management. Most crimes, buglary, robbery, gang fights originate from alcohol. Frequent acidents occur risking many lives (both inside the car and outside).

    Dear MPs, please banning alcohol be your agenda in the next immediate session of the parliament.

  25. Agreed. While we tobacco chewers and smokers have right, equally non-chewers and non-smokers have right too; And I would request government to implement delimitation of places for smokers chewers, for non-smokers and non-chewers on priority basis–otherwise, we could see impending clash/battle between tobacco lovers and tobacco haters.

    Cheers

  26. Pema Wangchuk says:

    Is there a partcilular place where we are supposed to chew tobacco???????
    No horizon of tobacco

  27. Pema Wangchuk says:

    To do away with all the ill effects of alcohol and its collateral damage, just controlling the Bars will not suffice. The result will be felt or seen only if the the problem is nipped in the bud.

    Here the origin of Bars, drinkers and its social ill effects is the wine or alcohol. Ban the production and the import. Can that be done is anybody’s guess. Just going after bars & discotheque like a mad dog is not a good idea.

    May be there should be heavy tax on the wine and alcohol. As health ministry puts, the cost of treating alcohol related disease is on rise and cost huge amount to national exchequer..

    So my suggestion will be ban alcohol production and wine import.

  28. tamkhumathung says:

    Please ban Acohol in coming session of parliament…

    Afterall many has mentioned that we the Country of Many Bans…

  29. Anonymuse says:

    I thought that you would be above such silly posturing.

    Instead of a deeper analysis into more viable / less draconian measures, you have chosen this juvenile response as a “new year wish”.

    Shame.

  30. My unbiased, yet narrow interpretation of Bans. Banning is a kind of legal method to limit choice. Life without choice is dull one-at least for me. I strongly believe in “variety is a spice of life” kind of thinking.

    Whether or not to make correct and right choice should be left entirely to individuals. Some may say that there are some individuals who are incapable of making choice. For such individuals the best course of action is awareness and education.

    Banning is also a kind of social engineering method with main objective to coerce behavioral change. If it works, it is OK; but in many instances such coercion backfires and induce rebellious attitude in people who otherwise would be normal law abiding individuals. The other downside of banning human habit is encouragement of underworld activities. I will not be surprised if more black marketeering and smuggling becomes rampant after ban. This will be additional headache for law enforcement agencies.

    My suggestion, thus is, please do wider public consultation and debate the issue to arrive at certain inferences; which then can be translated into some human act. This suggestion holds true for any future action on enactment of any kind–be it alcohol, drug trafficking etc. etc.

    Cheers

  31. quite a fierce way to greet the new year.

    happy new year!

  32. Ban on sales of tobacco is tolerable but ban on consumption is quite silly. Leave it up to the people to decide what’s good/bad for them. Don’t mean that just because someone dies of diabetics, we ban sugar consumption.

  33. No smoking, I think is good for our health.
    Happy New Year 2011.

  34. What will be the consequences if ministers are found chewing tobacco????
    Police do not give damn when high post holders chew tobacco. They are afraid.

  35. Tobacco Act is the most stupid law!

    I will admit i am a regular smoker, i have been smoking for last 14 years.

    I know the dangers of smoking, i know i may get cancer, and i dont need someone telling to stop smoking.

    I believe that as a citizen i have right to smoke and die if i wish to.

  36. abi narayan…
    nobody is telling u to quit…u can import and smoke…..so, nobody is forcing u and ur rt to smoke is still there!…

  37. @namps

    Sure you can “import and smoke” ~ *if* you have the time and money to leave the country once a month (and pay the duties and taxes).

    Doesn’t this end up being one rule for those in a position to frequently take jaunts outside the country and another rule for those not in such a position?

    And anyway, if some well connected person is caught smoking and actually charged, what do you think the chances are that they will then somehow come up with the appropriate receipts and avoid penalty?

  38. lets see how they are implementing the law…hopefully, they will treat everyone equally whether one is connected or disconnected….Regarding time and money, it is individual’s headache!…Rather take it as an opportunity to quit….at heart, most of the smokers wants to quit but they are unable to do it…so, take this as an opportunity!!!…so take it positively coz now since it has already become act, no point of grumbling till the time it is amended again!

  39. Opposition MP, Dasho Damchoe Dorji smokes too, so, I am hoping that OL’s New Year wish comes true with his colleague getting 3 years behind bar, so that he is the lone opposition in the NA.

    Good Luck to OL.

  40. i salute the legislation,,, thumbs up to the narcotics control board, the police, and all authorities involved in this massive step to to control smoking habits and thereby its implication on the health of both those who smoke and those who dont which inturn is going to be beneficial to the health cost and the nations economy per se….

    although some people here seem stubborn and rather proud of their smoking habit, there could be equal if not more no.of people who wish to quit the habit and this law atleast serves as a platform for those who wish to quit. M sure there ll b many people who have atleast reduced the no.of ciggs they smoke daily even if they couldnt stop it completely…since the law has been passed and that is a major step in the right direction,,,

    few people seem hopeless enough tat they are even ready to die smoking but there are thousands other who arent that hopeless and must have been wishing for a moment to do away with the habit once and for all…

    without such stringent law, 10 – 20 yrs down the line i can guarantee that 80 – 90% of the high school going youths ll b into smoking, forget abt the burden of the health of the individual, the family, and the nation as a whole…

    and like some people hv expressed the desire to have nicotine patches etc,, let me remind u that the MoH has already initiated means for counselling and other methods for those determined to quit the habit…

  41. i personally feel that this whole tobacco act is great. initially, i was quite shocked myself but when i came to think about it, it all made sense.

    first of all, people who buy cigarettes already have to pay a higher price due to it’s illegal acquisition. if you actually take the time to calculate, you’re not paying less now or more by legally bringing it in. So, there’s not much to whine about.

    secondly, if you do get caught there is no way in hell that you’re going to serve time for some other person’s illegal act. Hence, you will disclose where you got the cigarettes from and the person breaking the law will serve his/her sentence. Ultimately the government will succeed in enforcing the ban of the sale of tobacco in Bhutan.

    Thirdly, we all know that tobacco is a form of drug. Not only is it harmful to the smoker but others around. i personally feel that it isn’t right to do harm to others in the process of harming yourself. there is no doubt in that.

    lastly, i have many more points but i do have to get back to work, is the most important point which is the fact that this law will prevent our youth from consuming tobacco. i think that it takes a strong and caring govt. to pass such laws and i applaud them!

    great job guys, not in terms of gaining popularity or what not but because you guys genuinely care about the country and not the next elections.

  42. Didn’t Buddha teach that *tolerance*, patience and understanding are among the highest virtues every man should develop?

    Tolerance is the acceptance that other people hold different views from ourselves. Tolerance is the willingness to allow others to be different in their views and actions. Above all tolerance is the absolute avoidance of using power, violence or coercion to force other people to think, behave, and believe as we do.

    Tolerance is an attitude of loving kindness (metta) towards those who hold views which are different from ours and even towards those who hold views or act in ways which are repugnant to us.

    Simply banning things we don’t like or find offensive is the way of the intolerant.

    The truly Buddhist attitude towards those who have bad habits is one of compassion, because they they bring suffering on themselves. Buddha always used reason not coercian to get people to change their ways: “when you yourselves know: These things are unwholesome, these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; and when undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill, abandon them..”

    Aren’t those who condem smokers in the name of Buddhism while doing things like eating meat, which involves the wholesale and intentional killing of living beings, just hypocrites?

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