Health Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne yesterday said he would propose a ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco based products within a 500 metre radius of schools.
Addressing a workshop organised by the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) the Health Minister said there was a ban on the sale of alcohol in areas in the vicinity of schools. There was also a pressing need to put a stop to the sale of cigarettes and tobacco based products around schools, the minister said.
Minister Senarante said that though areca nut and lime were carcinogenic both were an integral part of Sri Lankan culture, but soon stringent action would be taken to ban the use of areca nut and lime with betel.
The Health Minister signed a letter addressed to President Maithripala Sirisena seeking his intervention in bringing laws against chewing betel with areca nut and tobacco preparations such as Babul and Hans, mixed with narcotics.
Health Ministry Spokesman Nipun Ekanayake said the ministry had adopted several measures to curb the use of tobacco by increasing taxes, banning the use of smoking in public areas and including pictorial warning on cigarette packs. He said the Health Ministry would also introduce blank packaging for cigarette packets and banning the sale of sticks separately.
Minister Senaratane had said the tobacco industry was bent on influencing the media to promote a distorted picture by giving out false information that the sale of beedi would increase with restrictions placed on cigarettes. Lashing out at a section of the media he said that it was bent on highlighting only the views of tobacco and pharmaceutical industry paying little attention to the need for protecting the public.