Plans are afoot to reduce the tobacco production in Sri Lanka by 5% per year starting 2011, said Chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol, Prof Carlo Fonseka.
Addressing a media awareness workshop on reporting drug-related matters he said that this plan will be implemented from next year as per a request from the Buddhist clergy.
“The tobacco production in Sri Lanka will be reduced systematically and in 20 years there will not be any tobacco production taking place in Sri Lanka,” Prof Fonseka added. He said that the tobacco imports will also be reduced significantly.
According to the statistical data of National Dangerous Drugs Control Authority, in 2009 alone 4,101,396,560 cigarettes have been sold islandwide.
However, Dr Prasanna Cooray of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) said that following the programmes conducted to raise awareness the situation has become favourable as the number of youth who get addicted to tobacco has been reduced. “The Global Youth Tobacco Survey has placed Sri Lanka at a top level compared to other countries,” he said.
Dr Cooray also said that islandwide programmes are organised to curb the tobacco menace. “The Police Department, Health Ministry, Agriculture Ministry and the Tobacco Tax Bureau are working together with the NATA to reduce manufacturing and producing tobacco and tobacco based products,” he said.
He added that NATA has established tobacco prevention centres to achieve their targets. Two tobacco prevention centres have been established in the Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi Districts last month. “There is a tobacco prevention centre in each district and we ask the general public to assist us to curb this problem and to gain awareness to prevent manufacturing, producing and consuming tobacco based products,” Dr Cooray said.