Jan 02, Colombo: Sri Lanka tobacco manufacturers under a court order that is effective from yesterday started printing graphic health warnings on cigarette packs.
Sri Lanka's Supreme Court last year ordered the leading manufacturer of tobacco products in Sri Lanka, Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) to include pictorial health warnings covering 60 percent of the front and back panels of the cigarette packs released to the market from January 01, 2015.
Manufacturers are prohibited from producing after December 31 packs without the warning. The traders and distributors have a month grace period until January 31 to clear their non-compliant stocks.
From February 1, legal action can be taken against those who sell cigarettes without the proper warning.
The first in a series of seven graphic warnings, which have to cover 60 percent of the front and back pack surfaces, depicts a patient with heart disease lying on a bed in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital. The caption says, in three languages: 'Smoking Causes Heart Disease'.
This warning will be used for six months, after which it will be replaced.
Meanwhile, anti-tobacco lobbyists have expressed concern that the graphic messages will not be seen by the average smoker, who buys loose sticks rather than packs, The Island reported.
The Health Ministry says that 60 to 65 people die daily due to illnesses related to smoking and 27 percent of its annual budget allocation has to be spent on the treatments for patients suffering from illnesses caused by tobacco use.