Pictorial warnings on cigarette packets:

Maithripala vows to achieve ‘80% target’


By Don Asoka Wijewardena

Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena yesterday expressed dissatisfaction with the Appeal Court verdict on pictorial warnings on cigarette packets. He said he would leave no stone unturned in his efforts to bring in fresh legislation to implement the government decision to print pictorial warnings on 80% of the display areas of cigarette packets.

The tobacco industry pointed out that Health Minister had no right to issue special gazette notifications on pictorial warnings. But, the court held that in accordance with the National Tobacco and Alcohol Act, the Health Minister was vested with power to issue a gazette notification against any organisation which manufactured harmful products in a country.

Minister Sirisena was speaking at a ceremony to hand over appointment letters to 2,500 newly trained nurses at the Exhibition and Convention Centre in Colombo yesterday.

Minister Srisena pointed out that he would never give up his struggle to have 80 per cent pictorial warnings on cigarette packets.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Cabinet and all 225 members of parliament had approved and had issued the gazette notifications concerned. But, the tobacco industry had moved the Court of Appeal against their decision, the Minister said.

"I respect the court order. I do not criticise it. My intention is to lead the struggle until 80 per cent of the display areas of cigarette packets were covered with pictorial warnings," Minister Sirisena said.

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