Govt. earns Nu 144.108mn through tobacco sale

The government earned revenue of Nu 144.108mn through the sale of tobacco in the country as of November end this year. Bhutan Duty Free Limited (BDFL) had been facilitating the sale of tobacco products in the country from August this year. General Manager of BDFL, Ugyen Thinley said that the highest consumption of tobacco was in the September with revenue earning of Nu 48mn. In a day, an average of 570 people calls up the outlet for queries on tobacco sale and actual purchase. However, BDFL has allocated 650 tokens a day in Thimphu at including different outlets. The duty free outlet alone issues 250 tokens. Ugyen Thinley said that they do not have a monthly stock of tobacco, instead they stock up on the products whenever the stock depletes. “There are more “Baba” consumers than smokers,” he said. In other regions apart from the capital, there are four outlets that distribute tobacco-Gelephu, Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar. Thimphu has four temporary outlets. There are six hotline numbers which the G2C office is managing for inquiries on tobacco. An official from G2C said that when they receive calls for purchase of tobacco from people, firstly they crosscheck with the citizen, identify their card number and whether they had purchased tobacco within a period of the past two weeks. Currently, BDFL distributes 20 packets of cigarette one gum and 12 pieces, which is one gum for an individual every month. One gum of Navy Cut Wills cigarette costs Nu 3,600, one gum of Navy Cut Virginia costs Nu 4,250 and a gum of Baba costs Nu 150 at duty free outlets. According to the Tobacco Act, an individual can import up to 800 sticks of cigarette and 75 packets of chewing tobacco. Records with the Bhutan Narcotic Control Authority (BNCA) reveal that in a three-month period of September to November 2020, the authority seized 313 packets of cigarette and 169 packets of Baba and imposed fine of Nu 149,962 in Thimphu and Wangdue alone.

Dechen Dolker from Thimphu