He made this statement during a media briefing held in Colombo yesterday to notify the public that the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act, would be strictly implemented throughout the country.
He said the main reason for the increase in mouth cancers is the chewing of beetle and tobacco.
Meanwhile a special telephone number 1948 has also been made available to entertain complaints regarding violations of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act.
In order to arrest those who violate the act, island wide raids would be held through the Medical Officer of Health offices.
He noted that a survey conducted last year revealed that around 2-3% of students between the ages of 14-16 are smoking.
Therefore, the laws pertaining to tobacco and alcohol will be strictly implemented from today (16).
“Today the Kataragama Esala celebrations are being held and raids will be carried out in this area. The government’s move to increase the price of cigarettes can be considered as a good move,” he said.
Health authorities waste 20 billion annually due to tobacco
Expressing his views the Director of the non-communicable diseases unit Dr. Tilak Siriwardena said, “The government spends around Rs. 200 billion for treatment of diseases related to tobacco use. We anticipate the assistance of the public in implementing this act. The public is urged to provide immediate information to the nearest MOH office regarding those who violate this act. The Advisor of the Tobacco and Alcohol national Authority Jayatissa Nanayakkara is engaged in a massive national endeavour to educate all MOH members in saving the public from this scourge.
While the government will do everything possible to save the public from tobacco use, those who don’t comply will be dealt with according to the law. Those under the age of 18, smoking in public places and religious places, shops etc will be seriously dealt with.
Special smoking areas need to be established for those who want to smoke. The current smoke free areas operated under the MOH zones will be increased to 342. For those found guilty of smoking in public places the fine is Rs. 50,000 and other fines would be determined based on the offence.”
The Chairman of the Public Health Officers Association Upul Rohana also expressed his views.
"Plans to increase the price of a cigarette by 16.50"
Meanwhile, there are allegations have been levelled that all these programmes are implemented with the aim of increasing the price of cigarettes. This issue has been widely spoken over social media.
The following is one such post.