Published: 16th June 2021
#ThrowbackToday: When Bhutan kicked the butt for good a decade ago today
In today's #TBT, we look back on the ban that Bhutan levied on tobacco and its products and how the Buddhist kingdom was hailed internationally for it. Also, here's the latest updated on the ban
Here's another reason to take a one-way ticket to Bhutan. This country on the eastern ridges of the Himalayas doesn't just consistently rate highly on the World Happiness Index, it's going to experience 3.3% growth in its GDP the next fiscal year. But that's not why we are going to talk about Bhutan today, it's because on June 6, 2010 the Parliament of Bhutan passed the Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan which came into force on June 16, 2010.
The Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan is easily the most comprehensive ban as it curtails the cultivation, harvesting and sale of tobacco and its products. This was done keeping in mind the health and well-being of its citizens, of course, both of which are vital factors when it comes to Gross National Happiness. Though it must be mentioned that it did allow controlled import levying hefty duties. This opened up the scope for the black market which involved smuggling in cigarettes from India.
Last August, in the wake of the pandemic, when a Bhutanese worker with these 'goods' was tested positive while coming from India, the ban had to be reassessed. Ban was lifted citing cross-border contagion as the reason and people can now buy tobacco products from state-owned outlets. They say the ban is temporary. Only time will tell.