Why Tobacco act was a Joke even to a non-smoker

In a continued absurdity that is Bhutanese Politics, a new page was written five years ago, you know when road constructions were completed, schools built, developmental works over and our politicians were left without a job; Tobacco Control Act was born. Okay, after much trepidation I decided to publish this article anyway. Why talk about it now? Because firstly I am an asshole and secondly this is not a news site.

When asked why the obvious answer was that Tobacco imposes danger to both spiritual and social health. It is quite correct till here but hang on… And the religious activists started adding to the debate with their asinine logic of it being a Demon plant grown to doom humanity. Because it is fine if you consume it, but not if you sell it –quiet right interpretation of Guru Rinpoche’s prophecy. And this has only furthered my staunch belief that religion mixed with politics is a recipe for disaster.

Halt, before you think that this blog is running some cancer promoting campaign, I am a non-smoker and I support it as long as its motives are concerned but to force it upon people against their will is extremism and belittling of human rights. Why be like the Muslims that banned pork or the Hindus that banned beef for the supposed ‘collective good?’ Just because other regressive nations dictate how their citizens should lead their respective lives doesn’t mean we should too. I get it; we have a history of self-pride; for the first decade we kept bragging about how great it was for our country to be in isolation, and for the next decade we realized what a stupid idea that was all together and we never brought that subject again into discussion. But we are a country known for its degree of patience and tolerance also.

Many crimes happen because of alcohol; it affects society badly why not ban it? Because we manufacture alcohol, and it would hamper our business? Pork is responsible for epilepsies, Why not ban it? Diabetes kills more than TB, should we ban food? Sex spreads HIV/AIDS, why not cut penises out? If these things sound irrational so should tobacco ban. Problems are looked into, tackled, solved. Not omitted, dismissed or banned. At one point, It became safer and cheaper to do drugs than smoking. Where is the logic? I watched the debates on BBS, after a point it became quite clear to us that politics have somewhat turned into a scene where two matured oxen beat the shit out of each other for the purpose of gaining superiority till the other ox runs away frantically or shits diarrhea.

But despite all the frenzy and uproar it caused, did it do a little good? To answer that we have called your Alcoholic dad here at our Bhutan Pundit studio.

Bhutan Pundit: So, Azha Changzey what do you think are the possible shortcomings of the Tobacco control act as reflected in the lives of smokers like yourself?
Azha Changzey: Jadha laab.
Bhutan Pundit: Thank you Azha Changzey, good digging.
Azha Changzey: Jadha, Jadha.

Anyway, continuing… Need for amendment of a Law itself is a proof of its failure. And while they go about bragging success, mark this, not a single smoker quit smoking, not that I know of; they only paid more for a puff. One thing is true; tobacco act has only paved a broader way for the black market and illegal smuggling. A single packet of cigarette costs as high as 150 bucks. Where is the logic behind “you can smoke one but you can’t buy one?”
An average person smokes a packet a day, multiply that by a month and he spends at least Nu. 4500 a month and Nu. 54,000 a year just on cigarette, unless they manage to smuggle a year’s worth of supply across the checkpoint by hiding it in their underwear or shoving up their ass. Smuggling Tobacco has become a very lucrative low-cost high-output business for the Black marketers. An average smuggler earns, suppose he has around 100 customers a day, about Nu.  54,00,000 a year of un-taxed money.

What should have been done instead?
1. The government should have built smoking houses around the city or ordered Hotels and bars to allocate smoking zone. Yes, public smoking should be strictly prohibited and punished because passive smoking kills.
2. Selling of tobacco products to youths should be banned.
3. Smoking Tobacco use in front of Children should be banned.
4. Run various awareness campaigns.
5. Influencing another person to smoke should be a serious offense or even a felony.

The Act
Many innocent Bhutanese were convicted under the act. It was havoc, faceless Atcharas masquerading across Facebook groups yelling cries for Amendment. And the Government fear mongering the citizens by imposing rules pertaining to personal life is a dangerous trend, especially with things that were very much legal a week ago. In many religious countries, even in Bhutan, we have seen how disastrous it is for the social fabric of the nation.
Somebody should really nominate our politicians to a boiling bucket challenge for the purpose of conscience awakening which will happen in the next paragraph.

Amendment
The Act was amended two years after under which possession limits were increased, and penalties were decreased. Fourth-degree felony- a punishment equivalent of that of sexually assaulting an elderly woman reserved for possession of four times the limit. However, the ban on the sale of tobacco was not lifted. And Prime Minister stated that the amendment was duly because of “pain and the suffering” the act had caused after some 59 arrests. Because you have to experiment with the lives of 59 people just to understand how much you sucked.

The joke
The National Council, today, decided that supply and distribution of tobacco products in the Country will be permitted. The manufacturing of tobacco, however, will remain banned as stated in the Tobacco Control Act. –source: BBS

 

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