The First Nonsmoking Nation
Bhutan banned tobacco. Could the rest of the world follow?
Bhutanese officials say that, by banning tobacco, they hope to set an example for the rest of the world. Ireland recently banned smoking in public places, though the sale of tobacco remains legal. Other European countries, such as Norway, are enacting less-stringent smoking bans.
In most of Asia, though, the trend is toward more smokers, not fewer, as countries rush to emulate Western habits and as tobacco companies look east for new customers. Once again, Bhutan finds itself the exception to the rule.
Eric Weiner is author of the forthcoming book The Geography of Bliss, to be published in 2008.
Photograph of Bhutan king Jigme Singye Wangchuk by Ajit Kumar/AP.