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The latest news on this change — carefully culled from the world wide web by our change agents. They do the surfing, so you don't have to!

A Twist on Your Usual Ban

As you quit smoking, you may be enjoying the ban on smoking indoors that is sweeping the country. But what if it was illegal to buy cigarettes all together?

The kingdom of Bhutan, a country between China and India, is testing it out. For the past three years, it’s been illegal to buy tobacco products in the small country.

It’s not illegal, however, to smoke. But if you want to legally bring in cigarettes, you must bring in a carton and consumers will pay up to 200% of the price in taxes and duties. Of course, not everyone listens—and cigarettes can still be purchased in the country…on the black market.

Shop owners should beware the costly price of illegal sales. A store caught selling tobacco product could be fined $260 and lose their license—a huge price to pay for a country where the average yearly income is only $870. And the question asking how to deal with individuals selling cigarettes from their homes is still unanswered.

The Wall Street Journal said Bhutan may be considered a laboratory, to discover whether or not a ban on selling tobacco will really keep people from smoking. While there are many reasons for the ban, the country is trying to lower the cost of the universal health care program.

Would a ban like this work in the United States…or would it just make cigarettes more tempting, the way underagers get giddy for booze? [Wall Street Journal]

Posted: 3/24/08