Bhutan will soon become the world's first country to ban tobacco sales completely. Bhutanese trade and industry ministry has asked shops, hotels, restaurants and bars to dispose off their tobacco stocks by December 17, 2004, after which the ban will be enforced. The fine to be imposed on anyone caught selling tobacco after this deadline is huge: US $225. Bhutan's poverty line is set at about US $16 a month.
The government says the move is aimed at achieving a development goal of gross national happiness. Tobacco sales were banned in many parts of the country since past few months but the recent government notification made it complete. In July 2004, the country's national assembly had voted to ban tobacco sales across the country and impose a 100 per cent tax on any tobacco product brought into the country for personal consumption.
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