Introduce special bill to circumvent court ruling -UNP tells Sirisena

Pictorial warnings on cigarette packs


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The UNP yesterday said that Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena could easily circumvent the Court of Appeal ruling on pictorial warnings on cigarette packets by introducing an urgent Bill in Parliament.

UNP MP Ajith Pathmakumara Perera said that the proposed Bill should contain what was in a Special gazette notification on pictorial warnings issued by Minister Sirisena some time back.

Pledging the UNP’s fullest support to such a Bill, attorney-at-law Perera said that the passage of the Bill unanimously was a foregone conclusion as all political parties represented in parliament were supportive of print pictorial warnings on 80 % of the display areas of cigarette packets.

The Court of Appeal on Monday ruled that pictorial warnings could cover 50 % to 60 % of the display areas of cigarette packets.

The UNPer said that Australia was among the countries which had taken measures to cover 80% of the display areas of cigarette packets with pictorial warnings. Responding to a query, the Kalutara District MP emphasised that the government should take tangible action to implement what was unanimously agreed in parliament.

Asked whether the Supreme Court could be moved against Special Bill meant to discourage current consumers and those targeted by the industry, MP Perera said that those opposed to curbs on tobacco smoking had a right to seek judicial intervention at the highest level. In case, the tobacco industry moved the Supreme Court, the apex court couldn’t do away with the Bill. If the Supreme Court ruled that the proposed Bill violated the Constitution, the court would have to recommend a two thirds parliamentary approval or a two thirds parliamentary approval plus a referendum, the MP said.

The bottom line was the Court of Appeal couldn’t decide on policy. The attorney-at-law expressed surprise that the Court of Appeal had recommended the percentage of the display area to be covered by pictorial warnings.

Health Minister Sirisena could count on the UNP’s support, MP Perera said, adding that all those who had thrown their weight behind the Special gazette notification on pictorial warnings would stand by him.

The MP said that there couldn’t be any dispute as regards Minister Sirisena’s effort to achieve 80% target.

While assuring the JVP’s support for fresh legislation meant to further expand the display area covered by pictorial warnings, its leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake stressed that additional measures should be taken to curb smoking. Pictorial warnings wouldn’t be sufficient to tackle the tobacco menace, he said.

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...