Government urged to withdraw proposed ban on tobacco cultivation

The Government has been urged to withdraw a proposed immediate ban on tobacco cultivation.

The All Ceylon Cigarette Tobacco Barn Owner’s Association said that since 2015, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Drug Prevention has recommended “unreasonable restrictions” on tobacco cultivation such as the immediate prohibition of even using barren marginal paddy lands for such cultivation.

In a letter to the President, the association said that despite the fact that tobacco farmers being the key drivers of national and rural economic growth, they were not consulted before such adverse recommendations were made and communicated through agricultural channels.

“Tobacco is a cash crop which was introduced to farmers by the Sri Lankan Government in the 1950’s and fully supported by successive Governments until very recently. Under the patronage of previous Governments, tobacco cultivation has been an integral part of the agriculture communities spanning around 80 years and three farmer generations,” the  All Ceylon Cigarette Tobacco Barn Owner’s Association said.

The All Ceylon Cigarette Tobacco Barn Owner’s Association said that while the proposed tobacco cultivation ban is understood as being driven under a WHO agenda, it is clearly not the solution for the smoking problem in society.

The All Island Cigarette Tobacco Barn Owner’s Association urges the Government led by the President to continue to allow tobacco cultivation until an alternative crop which matches tobacco in economic value is introduced to the farmer, as successive Governments have done for the past 80 years.