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Single Cigarette sales will be banned -Rajitha

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne is promising to ban the selling of one cigarette at a time to the consumer.

Speaking at the commemoration of the World No Tobacco day held yesterday (17) he said the relevant papers seeking approval for the ban are already before the Cabinet of Ministers.

Then shopkeepers would only be allowed to sell packets of cigarettes once this gets the approval from the cabinet.

He also said that only 10.2 per cent of the population in Sri Lanka use tobacco but 20,000 deaths were recorded in last year which amounts to 10 per cent of the total deaths that was recorded last year.

“Combined deaths from HIV, accidents, suicides, alcohol consumption, murder, fire and drugs is less than the deaths from tobacco,” he added

Further, he said that according to the statistics obtain by the Health Ministry it was found that people living in the rural areas spent at least 40 per cent of their monthly income on tobacco which has become a health issue and major obstacle to eliminating poverty in those areas.

Senaratne also said that 2400 hectares are used to grow tobacco in Sri Lanka and by 2020 the government is hoping to stop the growing of tobacco and use those lands to grow other plant species.

“Currently 400 hectares from the total is used to grow other plant species by giving the necessary financial support to the farmers,” he said.

Further, he said that Rs 214 billion is spent annually to treat health issues related to the consumption of tobacco.

“We spent more than twice the amount we earn from the taxes imposed on tobacco on the health issues that happen due to the consumption of tobacco,” Senaratne said

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