Cabinet decides to halt moves to import Chinese cigarettes

Cabinet has decided to suspend moves to import cigarettes from China, the Health Ministry said today.

The issue had been raised at the cabinet meeting today and Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera had said that cigarettes from China will not be imported.

Last week the director board of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) had threatened to resign if clearance was given to import Chinese cigarettes.

NATA Chairperson Dr. Palitha Abeykoon had issued the warning to Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

“I am writing to you at the behest of the Board of Management of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) to convey to you the Board’s concern regarding the plan to grant a license to import cigarettes from China. The Board further wanted me to inform you that if this were done, we would be reversing in one single move most of the gains we have made in preventing harm from tobacco over the past two decades. It would be an inappropriate decision that would have seriously negative health, economic and social consequences,” the letter said.

NATA noted that allowing the import of cigarettes from China will go against the policy of the Government to discourage smoking.

The Finance Ministry had proposed granting a licence to import cigarettes from China as most Chinese employed in Sri Lanka prefer the Chinese cigarette. (Colombo Gazette)

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