Paro International Airport Inspection

   

Bhutan Narcotics Control Agency with support from the Royal Bhutan Police and the Department of Revenue and Customs conducted the first inspection at the Paro International Airport on 21st March. Although no illegal drugs, tobacco or controlled substances were seized on the day of the inspection, the team noticed an increased voluntary declaration of tobacco products for tax.

NDPSSA (Amendment) Bill 2014

The Royal Government concerned with the current situation of increasing incidences of drug abuse and drug trafficking in the country, has directed the Bhutan Narcotics Control Agency (BNCA) and the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to revise the current Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse Act 2005 on priority. An appeal for urgent revision of the NDPSSA Act 2005 with a stricter penal provision was also recently submitted to the government by the public through a petition signed by more than 13,400 people.

Therefore intense revision of the NDPSSA Act 2005 was initiated by BNCA in December 2013 in consultation with representatives from the OAG, Department of Revenue & Customs, Department of Trade, Drug Regulatory Authority, Youth Development Fund, Chithuen Phendey Association, Royal Bhutan Police, Private Representative etc. The draft was subsequently presented to the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) members on the 6th and 9th of January 2014 and to the Cabinet on the 14th and 15th of January 2014. The draft was accordingly finalized for submission to the Hon’ble Speaker of the National Assembly following the final review and the directives of the NCB and the Cabinet.

World No Tobacco Day 2013

This year’s theme: “Ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship”

Around 6 million people die every year due to health hazards caused by tobacco use. World No Tobacco Day is observed every year to highlight the harmful effects of tobacco consumption and the need to strengthen effective policies to reduce tobacco use across the world.

The theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day was ‘ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship’.

Since World No Tobacco Day coincided with Bhutan’s first-ever primary round elections on 31 May 2013, the day was observed on 4 June 2013. The events for the day organized Bhutan Narcotics Control Agency(BNCA) in Collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) along with students and faculty of the Dechencholing Middle Secondary School were held at the school.

Speaking at the event, the Chief Guest, Tshula Lopen of Zhung Dratshang, said from a Buddhist perspective, any form of intoxicant including tobacco is not permitted, and even from a health perspective, tobacco consumption has several health hazards and no benefit at all. “On this day, it is therefore very important for us to contemplate on the harmful impacts of tobacco use, and those using tobacco must make efforts to give up the habit,” said Tshula Lopen.

In his message on World No Tobacco Day, which was read out by the Dr. Nani Nair, WHO Representative in Bhutan, the Regional Director of WHO-SEARO, Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, said Global Adult Tobacco Survey reports from Member States of the Region show that over two thirds of adults are exposed to tobacco advertisements and promotion in one form or another. Comprehensive bans on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship could decrease tobacco consumption by an average of about 7%, with some countries experiencing a decline in consumption of up to 16%. Meanwhile, global youth tobacco surveys (GYTS) have showed that nearly three in four students in the Region are exposed to pro-cigarette ads on billboards and to pro-tobacco messages at sports and other events. About one in ten students had an object with a cigarette brand logo and one in ten students had been offered free cigarettes by a tobacco company. Seven in ten students saw cigarette brand names when watching sports events on TV. These data are alarming as they show how the tobacco industry has been using all kinds of techniques to allure the youth to become addicted to tobacco. Once the youth have experimented with tobacco, they are prone to become tobacco users as adults. Our efforts should focus on preventing the youth from being exposed to all forms of tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship.

Dr Plianbangchang emphasized on the need for public education on the hazards of tobacco use as well as on national policies on tobacco control. “The public should also be made aware of techniques adopted by the tobacco industry to interfere with tobacco control measures in countries of our region,” he stressed.

To observe the day, students of Dechencholing Middle secondary School performed a cultural entertainment programme for the guests. Popular local comedians and actors also enacted a skit on the ill effects of tobacco use. BNCA awarded cash prizes to the winners of the Arts Competition organized to observe World No Tobacco Day.

Members of Parliament from the National Council, representatives of international agencies, the members of the Armed Forces and various government officials were also present to observe World No Tobacco Day.