Country imported Nu 2bn worth of tobacco in two years after the ban was lifted
According to the statistics of the Department of Revenue and Customs (DRC) that was recently published, Bhutan has imported tobacco and tobacco products worth Nu 2040mn from 2021 to 2022, following the change in the Tobacco Act and lifting of the ban on tobacco sale in July 2021.
The latest figures show that Bhutan imported tobacco and tobacco products worth Nu 1586.8mn in 2022, including 274.013 million sticks of cigarettes containing tobacco. Out of this, Nu 1.5bn worth of tobacco was imported from India, while Nu 264,531 came from other countries. Meanwhile, the DRC data shows that the country imported tobacco products worth Nu 453mn in 2021, including 49 million cigarette sticks.
Cigarette sticks top the list of imported tobacco products in Bhutan, with the country importing 274 million of them in 2022 and 49 million in 2021. Other tobacco products that were imported include biri, chewing tobacco (khani), jarda scented tobacco, and others.
In 2018, the country imported Nu 1.1mn worth of tobacco and tobacco products from India and other countries, including 103,735 sticks of cigarettes worth Nu 896,195.
While taxes paid may provide a source of revenue for the government, it also highlights the need for tighter regulations and measures to curb illegal smuggling and promote responsible consumption.
Additionally, smoking contributes to cardiovascular diseases. According to the health experts, smoking is also a significant risk factor for lung cancer, as well as other types of cancer such as bladder, cervix, esophagus, kidney, liver, pancreas, stomach, and throat cancer.
The experts have also been repeatedly saying that, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is another non communicable disease (NCD) related to smoking.
Smoking can also affect fertility in both men and women, increasing the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Other health problems linked to smoking include gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and an increased risk of cataracts, which can cause blurry vision and can lead to blindness. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), in Bhutan, tobacco kills an estimated 221 people each year which is around 5.7 percent of all deaths. Further, lung cancer is the second leading cancer in Bhutan.
Meanwhile, smoking has long been associated with a range of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, reproductive problems, dental problems, and vision problems. The World Health Organization (WHO) has consistently highlighted the dangers of smoking, stating that tobacco use is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths worldwide.
One of the ways smoking contributes to cardiovascular disease is by damaging the lining of blood vessels, which increases the likelihood of narrowing or blockages. This can result in high blood pressure, heart attacks, or strokes. In addition, smoking is a significant risk factor for various types of cancer, including lung cancer, as well as bladder, cervix, esophagus, kidney, liver, pancreas, stomach, and throat cancer.
Furthermore, smoking can adversely affect fertility in both men and women, leading to an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Dental problems, such as gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss, are also linked to smoking. Smoking has also been associated with an increased risk of cataracts, leading to blurry vision and even blindness.
In Bhutan, smoking-related deaths have been a significant concern. The WHO estimates that tobacco kills around 221 people each year, accounting for 5.7 percent of all deaths. Lung cancer is the second leading cancer in Bhutan, making it clear that the nation needs to take action to reduce smoking-related harm.
Tshering Pelden from Thimphu