Health warnings on packs to be removed | Daily News


If sale of individual cigarettes continues

Health warnings on packs to be removed

Director of the Centre for Combating Tobacco (CCT), Dr. Mahesh Rajasuriya, told the Daily News yesterday that pictorial health warnings covering 80 percent of the surface area of cigarette packs would be discontinued as long as the sale of individual cigarettes is allowed to continue.

The majority of smokers in Sri Lanka are youths and the poor. They buy one or two cigarettes at a time as it is more affordable. It is evident globally that this availability encourages smoking among youths, Rajasuriya said.

Until the sale of individual cigarettes is banned, there is no use of the pictorial warnings on the cigarette packets. It also prevents the effective campaign to stop smoking among youths, he added.

It is accepted worldwide that pictorial warnings on cigarette packs reduce smoking among beginners and long-term smokers. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), adopted in 2003, also requires such warning messages on cigarette packs to promote awareness against smoking, Rajasuriya said.

There is clear evidence that health warnings increase consumers’ knowledge about the consequences of tobacco use. The warning messages contribute to changing consumers’ attitudes towards tobacco use, as well as changing consumer behaviour, he added.

The sale of individual cigarettes has already been banned in over 100 countries, Rajasuriya said.

The government introduced tough new anti-tobacco legislation, making it mandatory to carry pictorial warnings covering 80 percent of cigarette packs in 2015, he said.

“The pictorial warnings were just 65 percent of the total area of a cigarette pack during the previous regime. Therefore, we appreciate the present government’s move since only a few developed countries have imposed such a ban,” he added.

He said that the sale of individual cigarettes was an outdated method, and that if the country wished to discourage cigarette consumption, it should be banned.

When cigarettes are sold individually, there is no use of having pictorial warnings on cigarette packs, Rajasuriya added. 

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