Signature campaign in support of Minister Sirisena against CTC


By Don Asoka Wijewardena

 A one million signature campaign, in support of Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, was launched yesterday in front of the Fort Railway station. The campaign was against the Ceylon Tobacco Company which had filed a case against Minister Sirisena, who had introduced a special gazette notification that all tobacco products should contain pictorial warnings with effect from August 2012, the Health Ministry said.

A Ministry spokesman said that with Cabinet approval, Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena had issued a special gazette notification that all tobacco products such as cigarettes, beedi, cigars and other tobacco-related products should contain 80 per cent pictorial warnings on their packaging from August 2012.

He pointed that before that date, the CTC had filed a case against Minister Sirisena in the Appeal Court stating that he did not have power to do it. At the same time, CTC had pleaded with Minister Sirisena to extend the period. In response to the request made by the company, Minister Sirisena had given an extension up to 2013 March to the company.

Gampaha District MP Dr.Ms. Sudarshani Fernandopullai addressing the people in front of the Fort Railway Station said that people and the children contracting respiratory diseases and asthma had shown an upward trend in fairly recent times due to passive smoking. Around 80 to 70 per cent of adults and children had become victims of passive smoking. The number of abortions had also gone up as a result of passive smoking and smoking. It had become a national scourge.

Additional Secretary to the Health Ministry Dr. Palitha Maheepala said that the people of the country should be grateful to the Health Minister for his dauntless efforts to introduce measures to print pictorial warnings on the tobacco products in the teeth of opposition.

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