Time has come to at least "curb the tobacco menace’’

Justice Ministry Secretary says at Cancer Society AGM


 Sri Lanka Cancer Society’s 66th Annual General Meeting: Chairperson, Mrs. Anoja Karunaratne addressing the gathering. Walter Ladduwahetty and Mrs. Kamalini de Silva are also in the picture.

According to recent statistics, between 20,000 to 30,000 new cases of cancer are reported annually in Sri Lanka, Mrs. Kamalini de Silva, Secretary to the Ministry of Justice said in her chief guest’s speech at the recent annual general meeting of the Sri Lanka Cancer Society.

"Thus the Cancer Society’s efforts, which I am positive is an uphill struggle, especially in the fact of inadequacy of resources is truly worthwhile and admirable," she said.

In the course of her speech, Mrs. De Silva made the point that this was an opportune time to bring stringent regulations to, if not prohibit completely, at least curb the menace of tobacco.

She said that she was well acquainted with the work of the Cancer Society which is geared towards prevention and cure of cancer as well as proving relief to people suffering from the malignancy.

"My father, the late Dr. W.D.L. Fernando, was a former president of the society when it was known as Ceylon Cancer Society and my mother, Mrs. Ethel Fernando, organized a Cancer Society island wide flag day for the benefit of the society."

Mrs. De Silva focused in her speech on cancer being a tobacco related disease, a hot topic currently debated in public forums in Sri Lanka.

"Tobacco, or more specifically cigarettes containing tobacco, is undoubtedly a malignancy by itself. 29.9% of male adults and 2.5% of adult females are smokers in Sri Lanka. Collectively, this accounts for almost a large majority of the adult population in the country," she noted.

"The habit of smoking has adverse implications for a developing country such as ours. This is because development is measured not only by means of monetary and infrastructural wealth, it is also quantified through many other societal factors.

"The rates of mortality and morbidity are two such factors lending to the calculation of development. Sri Lanka has recently been elevated to a lower middle income country from its previous position of a low income country. This categorization has been influenced by, among other factors, a change in the patterns of mortality and morbidity rates.

"However, according to national data, Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) have become the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the country. From these, tobacco leads the pack as the second most frequent cause of all deaths and disabilities attributed to Non Communicable Diseases.

"Additionally, bronchial and lung cancer or carcinoma of the bronchus and lung is one of the top three malignancies among male cancer patients according to the National Cancer Institute.’’

Sri Lanka has progressed towards limiting tobacco use and Parliament recently unanimously passed regulations under the NATA (National Authority on Alcohol and Tobacco) Act requiring pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs.

``This act of unity is all the more admirable in the face of the fact that the largest single revenue generator in the country is the tobacco industry,’’ she said. ``More than eight percent of government revenue consists of taxes paid by the industry.’’


The 66th, AGM of the Sri Lanka Cancer Society was held recently at the Society Headquarters. The chief guest was Mrs. Kamalini de Silva, Secretary, Ministry of Justice. The following members were elected as office bearers:

President: Walter Ladduwahetti, Vice Presidents: A.J.B. Anghie, K.B. Ambanpola, Mrs. Hema Jayasinghe, Mrs. Manel Perera.

Chairperson: Mrs. Anoja Karunaratne, Deputy Chairman: L.D.A. Jayasinghe.

Hony. General Secretary: Ms. Perin Captain, Hony. Assistant Secretary: Mrs. Veena Jayasundera.

Hony. Treasurer: Nihal A. Rodrigo, Hony. Assistant Secretary: Mrs. M. Cossette Thambyah.

Executive Committee: F.R. Alles, Mrs. I.K. Chandraratne, Dr. N.C.N. Cooray, Mrs. Hyacinth De Rosayro, Mrs. M.J.P. De Silva, Mrs. Ramani Fernando, Mrs. Shantha Abeysekera, E.P. Mannakkara, Justice Shiranee Tilakawardane, Mrs. Mary Varma, Mrs. Merle Weerasinghe and Mrs. Ajantha Wickramasuriya.

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