Health Minister refuses to allow importing of Chinese cigarettes

Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne has refused to allow the importing of Chinese cigarettes.

Senaratne said that the policy of the Government has been to discourage the sale of cigarettes in Sri Lanka.

He said that the Government took office in 2015 after being elected on a mandate which included discouraging the sale of cigarettes in the country.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera had said earlier that there was a request made to the Government to allow Chinese cigarettes to be imported to the country as most of the Chinese workers in Sri Lanka smoke Chinese cigarettes.

He said that Chinese cigarettes are already being smuggled into the country so the government would be better off legally importing Chinese cigarettes and earning revenue from it.

However Senaratne today said that he will not allow it as long as he is the Minister of Health.

Meanwhile, the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol said that there is a move by the Ministry of Finance to grant licenses to import foreign cigarettes to Sri Lanka.

“It must be stated categorically that this would be a serious retrograde step that will undermine all the current programmes for preventing the harm from tobacco and other narcotic substances in the country,” the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol said.

The National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol said allowing the importing of Chinese cigarettes without a long term vision nor wide consultations will negatively affects the health, social and economic development of Sri Lankans as well as the Chinese people. (Colombo Gazette)