Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers in a move to further curb the consumption of cigarettes and other tobacco products has given the government approval to introduce plain packaging for such products.
According to a statement on recent cabinet decisions, as a result of the direct and indirect harm caused by the use of tobacco, it has been estimated that the death toll in Sri Lanka annually exceeds 25,000.
The programs implemented for the prevention of the use of tobacco and alcohol throughout the past have resulted in reducing the use of tobacco among the adult males in Sri Lanka from 29% in 2011 up to 24% by 2015.
The expectation of the Government is to reduce the tobacco usage up to 15% in the next 4 years to prevent the 6,000 deaths. In this respect, as one of the strategies adopted for discouraging of smoking, a proposal has been made to introduce ‘Standardized Packaging’ to minimize the attractiveness of packaging of all tobacco products.
In this, only two colors or black and white can be used for tobacco products packaging and anything other than the information specified or mandated by the Government such as trade name, product name, quantity of the product and health warning or any symbol will not be permitted to be exhibited on these packaging.
The cabinet statement said that it has been a proven experience in other countries that this strategy has helped in minimizing the sale of tobacco to a considerable level.
With a view to providing legal provisions to introduce ‘Standardized Packaging’ for all tobacco products placed for sale in the country, the proposal made by the Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, to instruct the Legal Draftsman to amend the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act, No.27 of 2006 or to prepare draft legislation to enact regulations under the Act, was approved by the Cabinet.