Do Bhutan’s anti-smoking laws go too far?

Nice write-up by a Bhutanese journalist on the tough new anti-tobacco laws there, the imprisonment of a monk for breaking them, and the ensuing protests among the people against them. Like the ban on plastic bags, enforcement of the long-standing ban on tobacco had been kind of squishy–until the new rules enacted recently:

“In 2010, six years later, embarrassed by the failure of the ban and the pressure to live up to the smoke-free image that it created in the eyes of the world, the newly democratic Bhutanese parliament passed the more stringent act that is in place today. It has, however, not gone down well with many smokers who have called the law, among many things, a blatant infringement of personal freedom and an attack on democracy. “This is an unjust, undemocratic and preposterous ban,” says Kinley Shering, a Bhutanese media consultant who is also a smoker. Shering started a citizen’s movement to amend the bill on Facebook — an unusual show of dissent in this young democracy. Opposition Party Leader Tshering Tobgay says the tobacco control bill is “draconian” and “dangerous” and has called for monk Sonam Tshering to be freed.”


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