Rajitha to take up issue at Cabinet meeting today | Daily News
Chinese cigarettes

Rajitha to take up issue at Cabinet meeting today

Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said he would raise the issue of the move to import Chinese cigarettes to Sri Lanka, at the Cabinet meeting today.

The Minister said the President and he were strongly against the move. Moreover, there were only 6,000 Chinese workers in Sri Lanka.

He said he would find it difficult to stay in the government, if it goes ahead with such a cigarette import.

Minister Senaratne was speaking at the closing ceremony of the Drug Prevention Week held in Colombo yesterday.

Minister Senaratne has already informed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to halt the process of importing Chinese cigarettes.

In his letter, the Minister said the WHO awarded Sri Lanka on three occasions in recognition of its efforts to control tobacco. Sri Lanka has implemented 20 recommendations out of 22 recommendations in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Meanwhile, a Health Ministry spokesman said the Chairman and Board of Directors of the National Alcohol and Tobacco Authority (NATA) will resign if the government issues a licence for the import of Chinese cigarettes. NATA Chairman Dr. Palitha Abeykoon has already sent a letter to the Finance Minister in this connection.

The Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Ministry also said around 20,000 die in Sri Lanka annually from diseases related to smoking.

The government has been spending nearly Rs. 90 billion annually for resolving health problems arising from smoking, as well as for providing health care in this context.

Surveys have shown that people in rural areas spend 40 percent of their annual income on cigarettes.

Each cigarette reportedly contains 700 toxic chemicals, mainly leading to cancer.

Every day, one person dies every four hours due to smoking, across the globe.

Every cigarette reduces 11 minutes of a person’s life. The Sri Lankan government intends to stop tobacco cultivation completely by 2020.

In 2019, Rs. 80 million has been allocated to encourage tobacco farmers to take to alternative crops.

Public health inspectors have been in the forefront of the battle against smoking. They have been able to create 50 townships free of cigarettes.

Minister Senaratne said due to the efforts taken by the government, the WHO has declared Sri Lanka as the country which maintains the lowest rate of smoking in South East Asia. 


 

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