By Tandin Wnagchuk
Just days after the joint sitting of the parliament endorsed the new law which plutoed the existing tobacco ban in the country, the Prime Minister penned a heartfelt note expressing his views on the aftermath.
The PM stated that for a medical practitioner, with or without the law, and under any circumstances, his motivation is to reduce the number of tobacco users or minimise side effects and work on early detection and treatment of the diseases it causes.
“On the day this Act comes into effect, I will be relieved of the guilt and hypocrisy we were living with so far. It was always troubling as a concerned citizen, and as a legislator to see rampant use of tobacco despite the existence of the law,” the PM wrote.
Lyonchhen stated that when there are tobacco products available despite the ban, when there are strong indications of rise in the number of tobacco users, and also increase in tobacco induced diseases, it clearly means that the law was either not implemented or implementers were unable to do so.
However, the PM stated, with the amendment of the law, it is comforting that the government will now have the administering and regulating authorities in their hands.
“This is not about making tobacco freely available, as many perceive. Also, this is not about encouraging use of tobacco,” he said.
Meanwhile, the PM pointed out that strategies are already being discussed for a stringent and effective implementation on the ground. Respective agencies are reviewing their roles in tobacco, as well as other harmful substance control programs.
He said besides the concerted endeavours from all agencies, he sees the need for convergence of efforts from primarily the healthcare, religious bodies and particularly from oneself to make a conscious decision of reducing tobacco consumption in our society.
“I feel that we have a big opportunity here to sincerely try and prove that we are a literate society that makes well informed decisions. At the end of the day, I wish for our people to stop consuming tobacco after learning why we should not, rather than having the law to deny access to the products or criminalising them. Isn’t this approach more civil and sustainable?” the PM questioned.
Finally, the PM said that it was imperative for all to understand that the decisions of the government are not swayed by perceived political gains, and that the public would see the genuineness with which the present DNT-led government is serving the nation.
“Finally, if you have tendencies to question the intent of politicians, which need not be the case, I urge you all to believe in the views I am sharing as a medical person here, who has always cared for your health and wellbeing,” he said.