My Explanation on Tobacco Control Act
The Tobacco Control Act and the sentencing of former monk, Sonam Tshering, have been blown out of proportion. I sympathize with the sentiments of the people who are affected by the severity of the sentence and believe that it is important to provide a clear perspective on the issue.
What has been overlooked by the media and some sections of the Bhutanese population is that the Tobacco Control Act, introduced in the National Council (NC) by the Ministry of Health, debated in both the NC and the National Assembly (NA) was enacted by parliament with all members of the NC having voted in favor while only three voted against the bill in the NA. It was, therefore, a decision of the majority in parliament and therefore, the majority of the Bhutanese people.
Sonam Tshering has now been convicted in a court of law, not by the government or parliament.
I feel sorry for him and have empathy for members of his family who must bear the pain of his misdeed. I can understand why many people feel that the punishment is incongruous to the crime. But then, that is what the law has prescribed. In the end, it is not about how much of tobacco he was carrying, it is about committing an illegal act.