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* Sri Lanka parliament passes legislation to discourage smoking
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 08:53 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 19, Colombo: Sri Lanka's parliament Wednesday unanimously passed three regulations under the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act to discourage the smoking and alcohol use in the country.

Under the Act of pictorial warnings cigarette packs must have graphic warnings that cover 80 percent of the display area.

Minister of Health Maithripala Sirisena presenting the motions for debate said the regulations aim to discourage smoking despite the tax revenues from the tobacco industry due to the adverse effects of smoking on the health of people.

He said out that the number of cancer patients is on the increase and 60 percent of the deaths are taking place due to non-communicable diseases. The annual death toll by smoking amounts to about 20,000, and about 20 percent of the beds of the hospitals are occupied by patients suffering from ailments caused by smoking and consumption of liquor, he added.

The Minister said his Ministry and the Presidential Secretariat have jointly initiated district level programs to implement the national program of building a society free of intoxicants. The programs are formulated to target teens through older people.

The legislation received wide support across the floor even from the opposition lawmakers.

Opposition United National Party (UNP) Parliamentarian Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said that they will give their fullest support to the orders presented to discourage smoking and consumption of liquor and noted that it is essential to bring in stern laws against smoking and consumption of liquor.

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) parliamentarian Vijitha Herath said that the regulations will help to minimize smoking and consumption of liquor pointed out that the need to implement stern laws to prevent import and distribution of illegal intoxicants.

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP M. Sumanthiran appreciated the Health Minister's efforts for bringing the regulations.

The leading manufacturer of tobacco products in Sri Lanka, Ceylon Tobacco Company has sought legal redress against the pictorial warnings on cigarette packs and Courts of Appeal will give its decision regarding the matter on the 12 May 2014.

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