Sept 11, Colombo: Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne says the government has been able to bring down the number of smokers in the island by 46 percent after imposing the 90 percent tobacco tax.
He vowed to completely ban the tobacco cultivation in Sri Lanka by the year 2020.
He was speaking at the ceremony organized to hand over the letters to appointment to new recruits to the Health services today at the Temple Trees in Colombo.
Minister Dr. Senaratne handed over 2063 appointment letters to the new recruits in several health fields including nurses, public health inspectors and hospital staff.
Permanent appointments were given to 1614 nurses and trainee nurses, 121 first grade Health Officers (Public), 476 first grade Nursing Officers (Hospital Services), 291 first grade Nursing Officers (Nursing Education).
Addressing the gathering the Minister said that his Ministry hopes to bring down all diseases in the country by 25 percent by the year 2025. Around 25,000 deaths are being reported annually due to smoking and 5 percent of these deaths are small children, he said adding that 1250 children become victims due to their fathers.
The Minister noted that 80 percent of pictorial advisories were made compulsory and 90 percent tobacco tax was imposed. It is the highest tax for tobacco in the world.
He said 36 agreements have been signed to produce pharmaceutics in local factories. Two such factories in Kandy and Horana have already been completed. The production of pharmaceuticals in those factories will help the country to save the import cost of US$ 800 million for medicinal drugs by 2020.