A proposal to the effect of introducing ‘standard packaging’ (colourless) for tobacco products has received the green light from the cabinet of ministers.
The government said the proposal was aimed at reducing the number of deaths caused by tobacco and to minimize the attraction towards tobacco products. The proponent was Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne. According to a cabinet spokesperson, the standard package will only have two colours or black and white can be used and no mark can be displayed other than the trade name, product name, quantity and the graphical health warnings mandated by the government.
The cabinet of ministers approved the proposal submitted by Dr. Senaratne to amend the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act No. 27 of 2006 or to instruct the legal draftsman to prepare the drafts for the regulation under the said act. The government is also considering banning of cigarette sales near places of religious worship and schools and limit cigarette sales to purchase of an entire packet, instead of the current practice, where most smokers purchase one or two cigarettes for immediate consumption.
Tobacco taxation in Sri Lanka is already among the highest in the world.
Ceylon Tobacco PLC, a unit of British American Tobacco, as the only legal cigarette manufacturer in the country, has a monopoly on cigarette sales in Sri Lanka. Due to higher taxation and migrant workers working at large-scale infrastructure projects, Sri Lanka has a thriving illicit cigarette market.