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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2040

Religious leaders have called for the urgent implementation of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets

By Manjari Peiris
Colombo, 16 September, (Asiantribune.com):

Religious leaders belonging to all communities in Sri Lanka have called for urgent implementation of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets with a coverage of maximum 80 percent on cigarette packets, without any further delay.

This regulation was approved by the Minister of Health in end 2012 and the implementation process was to be begun from 1st March 2013. However the tobacco company in Sri Lanka filed a lawsuit against the Minister of Health and the National Authority on Tobacco & Alcohol (NATA) early this year.

Now the matter is held up at the Supreme Court and the case has been postponed several times. The next hearing is due on 20th September 2013.

The four Maha Nayaka Theras of the Tri Nikayas pointed out that multinational tobacco industry had resorted to various strategies to delay the process of releasing the gazette notification and then after approving the regulation they are seeking legal remedy to delay the implementation.

This practice has been a worldwide strategy of the tobacco industry to delay law enforcement and jeopardize the health of the people of the country, especially the youth.

“There is an urgent need to immediately implement the regulation on pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets, which was approved nearly a year ago. There is such a long delay in implementation.” the Malwatte Chapter Mahanayake, the Most Venerable Thibbotuwawe Sri Siddartha Sumangala Thera said in a statement.
“The accelerated development projects launched by the President of Sri Lanka would only become meaningful, if the citizens in the country could remain healthy. Therefore, it is imperative that the government advocate on the industry to comply with the regulation of Pictorial Health Warnings on tobacco products as approved by the Minister of Health in 2012, without further delay.” The Asgiriya Chapter Mahanayake Thera, the Most Venerable Udugama Sri Buddarakkitha, stated.

The Most Venerable Napana Pemasiri Mahanayake of the Ramanna Nikaya, stated; “Tobacco companies have already begun using sadistic strategies to evade the new regulation of PHW. In such circumstance the government and relevant authorities should have taken necessary action by now, which is a long delay since the approval of the regulation. We insist the government as a responsible leadership to take immediate action in this regard while realizing that PHW regulation is to help save the well-being of the people of the country. We learn that over 22,000 people of Sri Lanka untimely die due to this poisonous product for lack of knowledge of the harm of tobacco use.”

The Aggamahapanditha Most Venerable Dr. Davuldena Gnanissara Thera Mahanayake of the Amarapura Nikaya, reiterated that although the government has put an end to the massacres through war, the devastating deaths being caused due to tobacco use is still being continued without prompt action taken by giving due concern for it. The massacre through tobacco use is very much greater than it happened during the war.

The revenue which the government receiving through tobacco tax is far more exceeded in many folds when spending more to treating the tobacco victims, losing worthy citizens to the country in their productive years of lives and finally losing the bread winners to their families. Moreover the financial administrators should understand that it is not the tobacco industry which is bringing revenue to the government, but the people of the country by paying tax when they purchase cigarettes. This aspect should be carefully and intellectually taken into consideration by the responsible authorities in the state sector, including financial bureaucrats and try to understand the pathetic situation in realistic manner.

“Therefore, the authorities concerned should look into this matter seriously since it is a matter of life and the death of the people of this country. Worldwide, the tobacco industry has been unfaithful to their customers, by producing and selling a killer product without revealing the real status of the product to its consumers.”
“Therefore it is mandatory that the government take prompt action in this circumstance, by interceding into the matter and solving the problem. If not the tobacco industry could go on playing havoc in the country by deceiving everybody. The government should not let that happen anymore. People are very much agitated over this matter.”

The Manager of All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), Adham Ali stated that usage of tobacco and smoking was against Islam. “Smoking is an act of committing suicide. The substance is harmful to the body and results in causing detrimental effects to the entire body and bringing untimely death in their productive years of lives. “
“We greatly welcome any measures that would impact in the reduction or eradication of smoking in the country.” He said.

The President of the International Hindu Religious Federation Brahma Sri Ramachandran Kurukkkal Babu Sharma too approved the necessity of immediate implementation of pictorial health warnings on tobacco products. “We have been part of many campaigns against smoking. The government should address this matter immediately without any further delay; more youth are getting addicted to tobacco smoking now.”

Fr. Benedict Joseph, Director to Catholic Social Communication Centre stated that pictorial health warnings could create a great impact to reveal the ill effects of smoking. He urged all religious leaders to join hands in order to inculcate the myth of tobacco use and shun this foolish and meaningless practice.

“Children should be taught in schools on this issue. The youth organizations too should work vigorously towards inculcating good values among young people. They should be made aware of the harm that they inflict on themselves by getting trapped to diabolic and vicious strategies of the tobacco industry.”

- Asian Tribune -

 Religious leaders  have  called for the  urgent implementation of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets
 Religious leaders  have  called for the  urgent implementation of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets
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