Fifteen pc drop in cigarette production

by Dilanthi Jayamanne

The Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC) on Thursday revealed that cigarette production had gone down by 15 percent during the last 20 years. Addressing the media in view of ‘World No Tobacco Day’ commemorated yesterday (31), ADIC Executive Director Pubudu Sumanasekara said that the domestic cigarette production volume had dropped tremendously between 1994 and last year.

He said that the domestic cigarette production in 2007 which was about over 4,600 million sticks had dropped to 4,277 million by last year. It showed that Sri Lankans were gradually weaning themselves from cigarettes, he opined.

The Ceylon Tobacco Company reports showed a 14 percent sales reduction in the first quarters of last year and this year, Sumanasekera said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for a ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, identifying it as this year’s theme for World No Tobacco Day. 

Senior Lecturer of the Colombo Medical Faculty, Dr. Mahesh Rajasuriya said that despite regulations brought in against sponsorship and advertising, the tobacco industry had been able to "wriggle its way through all preventive measures taken by the government." The display boxes set up in super markets, posters in boutiques, and even the cigarette packs carried by some consumers in their shirt pockets were effective methods of promoting the brand and luring the youth into smoking, he said.

He said that it was one of the main reasons why the industry opposed the efforts of the Health Ministry to bring in mandatory pictorial warnings on 80 percent of the front and back of cigarette packets.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said that almost 20 percent of government hospital beds were occupied by patients suffering from tobacco and alcohol related non-communicable diseases. The spokesman for the Health Ministry said that 21 percent of Sri Lankan men and 0.8 percent women were addicted to smoking.

At least 20 people died daily of heart ailments while approximately 600 were admitted to hospital with heart diseases. A further three people died every other day of oral and lung cancers.

The spokesman added that Health Minister, Maithripala Sirisena had pledged to overcome all challenges to do everything in his power to save people from ruining their as well as others’ lives with tobacco and alcohol.

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