Bhutan has amended for the second time the Tobacco Control Act it introduced in 2010, but the ban on the distribution and sale of tobacco products remains in force, according to a Kuensel Online story.
The National Assembly on Friday endorsed by 37 votes to five with two abstentions the Tobacco Control Act 2014, which has reduced the penalties applicable to those who breach provisions of the act.
Many observers will be pleased with the amendment because the original penalties were seen by them to have been unnecessarily harsh.
But even the new penalties amount to more than a rap on the knuckles.
According to the amended act, a person found cultivating, harvesting, manufacturing or trading tobacco or tobacco products is liable to pay a fine equivalent to a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 35 months of the national daily wage. And if the offence is repeated, the person is liable to be charged with a fourth-degree felony.
The authorities have taken, too, a more pragmatic approach to the import of tobacco products. Fearing the proliferation of black market activities, the amendment allows for a three-fold rise in the permissible import of tobacco products.
A person can now bring into the country ‘900 cigarettes, 1,200 bidis, 150 cigars, and 750 grams of other tobacco or tobacco products a month,’ according to the story.