It was the implementation of the rule, which was weak, that it necessitated a proper law instead.
A law was crafted and tabled for parliamentarians to debate.
Merely having a law, experience showed, was not good enough, it had to be given teeth to bite violators with.
Parliamentarians deliberated and prescribed penalties so stringent that, in less than a month of its enforcement, it netted its first victim.
That was about the tobacco control law, which was a culmination of legislators’ frustrations over their inability to implement the law, despite initiating such a program several years ago.
Within six months, the number of people ending up behind bars increased to more than 30.
Irrespective of the amount of tobacco and its products a person was carrying, the law simply spelt out they be arrested and thrown behind bars for a minimum of three years.
People, mostly residing in urban areas, and those with internet access, began venting their grievances and criticisms over the severity of the law.
Some even ridiculed the penalty that equated a person in possession of tobacco with someone who committed the crime of manslaughter.
Facebook pages seeking amendment of the law were created, where people lobbied their legislators to shed off some of the ammunition the legislation was lavishly armed with.
Implementing agencies were soon forced to work on separate rules and regulations to mellow out the law, which was a year later, submitted to Parliament as an urgent bill to render it some clemency.
Ever since, there has been no reported case of people being lobbed into the cell.
While our parliamentarians are mulling over the upcoming elections, it is about time we ask if the Tobacco Control Act, which was so vehemently pushed, using all sorts of reasons and logic, from religion to scientific ones, has actually brought down tobacco consumption.
While there seems to be no benchmark to measure that, most Parliament members’ initial fears of the legislation reverting to its earlier toothlessness are probably proving true.
People, who used to smoke or chew tobacco, continue to do so, the same amount they did before the law came into being.
The thriving black market out there for peddlers is a proof of that.
Some shops selling tobacco and its products have been caught on a few occasions, had their tobacco products seized and fined Nu 10,000.
They continue with their prolific business that has helped them in terms of expanding and diversifying into other areas.
If only our legislators had listened to the domain of their heads, rather than of their hearts, to consider the many options that were laid in front of them by experts, of measures tested in other countries, and of successful policies other nations had adopted.