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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 80

Who is killing more, COVID 19 or Tobacco industry?

By Manjari Peiris
Colombo, 18 April, (

The Chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA), Dr. Samadhi Rajapaksa has written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by appealing him to ban sale of cigarettes in Sri Lanka during this critical situation in which people are affected with COVID 19 virus.

He has drawn the President's attention about three specific reasons that the government should ban tobacco consumption in the country during this period.

"Tobacco consumption severely reduces immunity of the user, Smoking enables fingers to contact with the lips which increases the possibility of transmission of virus from hand to mouth. In fact there is crystal clear example to highlight from Sri Lanka experience, since recently seven persons contracted with COVID - 19 when they had shared the same cigarette among each other.

Similarly smoking which affects a person's entire body, from head to bottom, it mostly affects the respiratory system. When COVID - 19 is a chronic and severe respiratory illness, it is obvious that smokers are more vulnerable to the disease, to get the condition worsen and the victim to die."

In 2016, the total economic cost of smoking was Rs. 213.8 billion, equivalent to 1.6% of Sri Lanka’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). These direct and indirect costs of tobacco amounted to 6.1% of government revenue, larger than the government revenue from tobacco taxes in the same year (5.5%).

In 2015, the economic costs of tobacco-related cancers alone cost Sri Lanka US$121.2?million.

In Sri Lanka 60 people die a day of tobacco smoking related disease (NCDs)

Dr. Rajapaksa also requests the President to be well aware of the tobacco industry which is a notorious trade behaving in opportunistic manner to capture governments, policy makers and people throughout the globe by throwing their blood stained wealth in the guise of their so-called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities or donations to governments. It is a crime to accept tobacco industry's blood stained money for any work as long as people's welfare is concerned.

Sri Lanka has already implemented the Article 13 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of the World Health Organization, under which the tobacco industry cannot engage in advertising, promotion and sponsorship of their products or services. CSR is already banned in Sri Lanka, under Article 13 of the FCTC.

During this period betel chewing with smokeless tobacco and spitting on the road too should be banned. India has already banned tobacco smoking and spitting on the road.

Dr. Rajapaksa also pleaded with the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to help protect Sri Lankans by ensuring Sri Lanka a COVID - 19 free country. NATA Chairman expresses his confidence that this measure would strengthen the President's image as a true leader committed for people's well being.

Stay Safe, Stay at Home, Stay Informed, But Don't Forget to Wash Your Hands.

- Asian Tribune -

 Dr. Samadhi Rajapaksa - Chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol
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