Tobacco and Alcohol Control Act - Sirisena laments Legal Draftsman sitting on amendments

by Dasun Edirisinghe

Amendments to the Tobacco and Alcohol Control Act have been held up by the Legal Draftsman’s Department for about a year without any explanation for the delay, Health Minister Maithreepala Sirisena complained yesterday.

He asked the media to give publicity and condemn the delay and silence on the part of the LD Department to combat abuse of tobacco and alcohol.

"Hundreds die daily in this country due to this menace. We have proposed amendments to bring this under control to prevent and restrict the abuse of tobacco and alcohol and sent them for the LD’s whetting. One year has lapsed but no action has been taken, the minister lamented.

According to him, 350 persons die each day from non-communicable diseases. Of them 75 per cent die of alcohol and tobacco related diseases.

Sirisena said that several big companies had hindered the health Ministry amending the Act.

"There had been threats too. We defied all these to amend the Act to make President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Mathata Thitha (Full Stop to intoxication) concept a success, but so far we are at a loss due to the undue delay by the LD Department," he added.

He said that alcohol and tobacco companies tried to induce him not act against the twin menaces but he did not fall prey to their tactics.

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