Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena said yesterday that President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Cabinet and Parliament had unanimously approved the printing of pictorial warnings on 80 percent of the display area of packets of cigarettes and had issued the gazette notification to that effect. As the tobacco industry had filed a case against the government in the Supreme court, the whole country would be anxious to know the verdict today.
Around 65 individuals between 40 and 50 years of age were dying of smoking-related diseases per day in Sri Lanka and as a result 65 families were losing their breadwinners. Around 21,000 people were dying of smoking-related diseases per annum in Sri Lanka and 21,000 families were left in the lurch.
About 60 per cent of cancer patients had developed various forms of cancers such as oral, lung, colon and anal due to smoking in the country, he said at a function held in connection with the anti-smoking walk organised by the Kottee Municipal Council.
Minister Sirisena said that smoking had not only caused problems in Sri Lanka but all over the World. According to the WHO, about 100 countries in the world had implemented pictorial warnings on cigarette packs. In 2012 he was instrumental in preparing a gazette notification ordering pictorial warnings to cover 80 percent of cigarette packs. But the tobacco industry had filed a case in the Appeal court against his action. Fortunately the Appeal court had given a verdict to print 80 per cent pictorial warnings on cigarette packs. The tobacco industry then filed a case in the supreme court against the government. Today was a very momentous day for all the Sri Lankans as the court order would be given.