I had a lively discussion with a friend on the issue of banning the sale of cigarettes. I am a smoker and he is not. His argument was that this was a fair law because people are still being allowed to smoke after paying taxes.
I had a different view. Firstly, alcohol is the bigger killer causing not only causing health issues to the person drinking it, but it causes social problems and domestic violence. Alcohol should therefore also be restricted and similar law be implemented, if the concern is for the health of the citizen. Focusing on issue of smoking itself, first question that comes to my mind is that, knowing the ill effects of cigarettes, why are we the only country in the world banning smoking? Is it because of the lobby groups in the countries? If thats the case, there are many eqaully small countries where lobbying groups dont have commercial interests. how come we are the only ones banning it? The answer is simple and straight forward. This infringes on individual rights, which sensible legislators will never dare delve into. Infringing on individual rights is nothing different that what the Taliban did in Afghanistan in requiring women to wear burkhas and men to keep beards.
I think the responsibility of the government is in educating the people about the ill effects of smoking and effects on others as a result of passive smoking. Citizens should have the right to decide on their own whether they want to smoke or not. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The extreme measure of banning smoking, although with a good intent, the danger is of setting a precedence, whereby the Government starts to look into the micro affairs of individual citizens, and curtailing their right to exercise their freedom.
I think the government can do a lot more on curtailing corruption, which is the biggest ill of any society, and will kill even the most vibrant society. This aspect, the government will not look into, because of the many linkages, and because of being possible beneficiaries themselves. Extreme measures, if at all necessary, but be on the bigger ills of the society and not on show pieces which affect the individuals. Think about it!
Update : 200 pieces of ciggrate a month, translating into les than 7 ciggrates a day with a receipt validity of one month. Beat this! is this anything less than saying dont smoke? Why not just explicitly say no smoking to everyone in Bhutan! this kind of tactics is very sad. Let see how the high ranking smoking officials are monitored and how will a tourism and aid dependent country entertain foreign dignitaries and tourists who smoke. C'mon, Lets get real!