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Bhutan police raid homes to stub out smoking habit

  1. Spucky
    Bhutan police raid homes to stub out smoking habit

    THIMPHU (Bhutan) - BHUTAN police can raid homes of smokers in a search for contraband tobacco and are training a special tobacco sniffer dog in a crackdown to honour a promise to become the world's first smoke-free nation.

    Buddhist Bhutan, where smoking is considered bad for one's karma, banned the sale of tobacco in 2005, but with a thriving tobacco smuggling operation from neighbouring India, the ban failed to make much of an impact.

    But legislation passed in the new year, granting police powers to enter homes, is set to stub out the habit, threatening five years in jail for shopkeepers selling tobacco and smokers who fail to provide customs receipts for imported cigarettes.

    Smoking in private is not illegal in the Himalayan kingdom, but as the sale of cigarettes is banned, smokers are restricted to 200 cigarettes or 150 grams of other tobacco products a month that can be legally imported. And they must provide a customs receipt when challenged by police.

    The Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency has started raids, with officials allowed to enter homes if someone is seen smoking or if officials have reason to believe there is illegal tobacco there.

    There has been widespread grumbling about the new rule. -- REUTERS

    source: http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Asia/Story/STIStory_622952.html


  1. Alfa
    This is very interesting, because it seems exactly the opposite of the Portugal drug legalization policy. In contrast with Portugal where they made the use of drugs legal and thereby increase government control over the legal use of drugs, Bhutan does the opposite by banning a widely used legal drug and imposing very restrictive and invasive control measures.

    It would be interesting to see a comparative study of the effects of both policies.
  2. Killa Weigha
    Well, it DOES tax the health care system immensely as well. If they could allow direct home/authorized club delivery I think it's fair, given the established religious nature of the government. Hard to argue against Karma (ha, Karma Police!) if that's the official position. Might as well try to wear a mini-skirt in Saudi Arabia. Smoking in special clubs and at home seem like a pretty good deal (and rather tolerant) given the circumstances. The other alternative being regime change.
  3. Spucky
    AW: Bhutan police raid homes to stub out smoking habit

    [IMGL="black"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=19036&stc=1&d=1295107289[/IMGL]The world's first smoke-free country?
    The tiny South Asian country of Bhutan has taken anti-smoking regulations to a new level, reports Reuters. Bhutan banned the sale of tobacco in 2005, but cigarettes remained widely available on the black market. So, at the start of 2011, the country began enforcing the Tobacco Control Act, passed overwhelmingly in June, which allows agents of the Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency to raid the homes and businesses of those suspected of possessing or selling smuggled tobacco. Police are even training dogs to sniff out contraband in homes and stores. A brief guide to Bhutan's tobacco crackdown:

    So is smoking completely illegal in Bhutan?
    Not quite yet. Citizens who still want to smoke privately are allowed to import 200 cigarette "sticks" a month from neighboring countries such as India, although they must have customs paperwork to prove they acquired the cigarettes legally. Anyone caught smoking who can't produce the proper receipts faces up to three years in prison. For selling bootleg tobacco, the penalty is five years. And Bhutan's government has publicly proclaimed that it wants to make the country completely tobacco-free—Reuters notes that, culturally, "smoking is considered bad for one's karma" in the Buddhist nation.

    How has the public reacted?
    Many Butanese are upset with the harshness of the new restrictions. Online forums are full of grumbling about the logic and logistics of the law, and the country's biggest newspaper, Kuensel, recently weighed in with a strongly worded editorial, saying that the penalties in the Tobacco Control Act are, "in every sense of the word, draconian." Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley defended the rules. Tobacco is "cancerous to society and to the individual," Thinley said, "and in many ways it is no different from psychotropic drugs, for which the penalty in certain countries is death."

    Could this realistically work?
    Illegal cigarette sales at small shops have dropped precipitously since the law went into effect, and the smoking rate in Bhutan is thought to be about 12 percent, compared to 23 percent in the United States. But the website Yes But However says that, historically, black markets pop up when government restrictions go into effect. And given its "porous borders," Bhutan's "new democracy will have its hands full in clamping down on the smoking habit." Besides, "with only one sniffer dog currently available in the cash-poor country, smokers can still rest relatively easy."
    Sources: Reuters, Global Voices, Yes But However
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