A GMOA allegation that another cigarette company is to be registered in Sri Lanka is a complete falsehood, says health minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne. He says in a statement that there is no government other than the present regime that is committed to eliminate cigarettes.
The government has imposed a 90 per cent tax and introduced an 80 pc pictorial warning in cigarette packs, he notes. Also, the sale of a single cigarette and the sale of cigarettes within 500 metres of a school too, are to be banned.
Senaratne also says that while the CTC pays an annual Rs. 100 billion as taxes to the state, treatment for smoking-related illnesses costs more than Rs. 72 b. around 25,000 Sri Lankans die each year due to smoking and alcohol consumption.
With the increase in taxes, the CTC has reported a decline in its profits to one pc, and it is hilarious to say a country that discourages smoking will welcome another cigarette company, he says.
At a time when even the WHO has commended Sri Lanka for its measures to discourage smoking, the health minister says the president and himself are committed to the health of the people, and not concerned about the income earned. He adds that he suspects some in the GMOA might be getting money and privileges from tobacco companies to make such hilarious allegations.
Responding to GMOA secretary Dr. Navinda Soyza’s remark that the health minister should have been given the wildlife ministry, Senaratne says Soyza is fit to hold a minor job in the wildlife ministry, and not to be a medical doctor.