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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2793

In Sri Lanka- Tobacco kills 20,000 people annually

By Peiris Manjari in Colombo

Colombo, 18 January, ( "About 11,000 prosecutions have been made in regard to violation of the regulations of the Tobacco and Alcohol Act during the year 2007 and about 17 million rupees have been collected in the form of fines," said, Professor Carlo Fonseka, the Chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA), addressing a gathering at the BMICH at a ceremony held parallel to the exhibition organized by the Medical faculty of the Sri Jayawardenapura University, Nugegoda.

He added: "However, I believe that education is the best way to reduce tobacco and alcohol consumption than prosecution."

The NATA Chairman revealed that according to a press statement of the tobacco company, the total sales of tobacco during the 9 months from January 1st to September 30th of 2008 had significantly lowered.

According to the Commissioner General of Excise, the production of alcohol too had declined for the first time in recent history in the year 2008.

In Sri Lanka tobacco kills about 20,000 people, a year. Alcohol consumption too has become a reason to kill the same figure.

"It is mentioned in a book titled The Cigarette Century authored by Alan M. Brandt, Professor of Medical History, that in the 1990s in the USA, tobacco alone had killed more than the combined total of people killed by alcohol, AIDS, traffic accidents, murder, suicides, dangerous drugs (heroine), and fire accidents." NATA Chairman revealed.

The NATA Act of 27 of 2006 has prohibited sales to minors of tobacco or alcohol products’, the punishment for which is a fine up to four thousand rupees or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or the both, displaying of tobacco and alcohol advertisements for which the punishment being a fine up to Rs. 2 million and thirdly smoking in enclosed public areas for which the fine is up to Rs. 2,000/- or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or the both. In addition to these prohibitions, sponsorship of brand names or trade marks of or any symbol associated with a tobacco product or alcohol product or the name of a manufacturer of a tobacco product or alcohol product directly or indirectly at any educational, cultural, social or sporting organization, activity or event are prohibited.

The punishment for violating this regulation is a fine up to Rs. 50,000/- or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or the both.

Professor Fonseka clarifying a query raised by the audience as to moderate consumption of alcohol was favourable to the heart, said well alcohol as a medicine could not be recommended by the medical science as it is a major risk factor for causing liver and other cancers.

The NATA Chairman also cautioned that in future productions of films and teledramas would not be able to include smoking/alcohol consumption. Professor Fonseka confirmed clarifying another query on depicting smoking scenes in a film telecast on 31st December masking the screen only after showing several smoking/alcohol consuming scenes through a particular TV channel that the Authority would take stern action against them.

While the contribution of Tobacco Company to the national income in Sri Lanka is 8%, the expenditure that the government incurs on those who suffer due to smoking is enormous.

- Asian Tribune -

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