The recent decision of the Parliament on lifting the ban of tobacco comes as a play on a Law in the Himalayan Buddhist Vajrayana country known for embracing Gross National Happiness and upholding strict Buddhist values.
Outlawing the existing law, the parliament has made the atypical decision to reverse the ban on the sale of tobacco, blaming the coronavirus. There is an outcry from the religious fraternity of the country. It is shocking on assumption that even at least 13 members from the Opposition Party have also supported the bill.
The government believes it is better to allow some controlled legal sales rather than risk importing the virus from neighbouring India along with smuggled cigarettes.
Rather than placing strict laws to stop the illegal imports of the banned products, making it flexible is an irony and it will be understood as a move with real political agenda.
Now the public are losing their faith on a state body which enforces unnecessary laws on them. Even there is need of law to stop this dangerous “play on law” which some governments are intending to.” No liberty should be given to the growth of negativity, and which pollute our sacred sanctity.
The decision allows smokers to buy tobacco products from state-owned duty-free outlets, and adds them to the list of essential products available in the country’s pandemic lockdown.
The Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan was enacted by the Parliament of Bhutan on 6 June 2010 and came into force on 16 June mainly aimed to address illegal market. It regulates tobacco and tobacco products, banning the cultivation, harvesting, production, and sale of tobacco and tobacco products in Bhutan. Of course the Section 11 B, which declares that no individual in the country shall plant, harvest, or make tobacco or tobacco products, was not changed.
Premised on the physical health and well-being of the Bhutanese people – important elements of Gross National Happiness – the Tobacco Control Act recognizes the harmful effects of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke on both spiritual and social health.
Long before the enactment of the Tobacco Control Act, Bhutan has a history that 1916, the first King of Bhutan Ugyen Wangchuck promulgated a ban on the “most filthy and noxious herb, called tobacco.
The law functions in relation to politics in three basic aspects, namely as a goal, a means, or an obstacle. As a goal in politics, certain predominantly legal values or institutions becomes almost identical to an authentic legal understanding of the same values or institutions. Second, politics can comprehend the law merely as a means for the fulfillment of certain political interests with neutral attitude toward the law. Finally, politics can interpret law as an obstacle on the way toward the realization of certain political goals.
The basic aspects of the DNT-government are now left to be ascertained by the public based upon their own wise or unwise decision.
Only time will tell if the decision was right.