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Cinnamon cigarette - a gateway drug to other hard drugs

17 April 2021 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Act of the National Authority on Tobacco & Alcohol (NATA) 27 of 2006, Clause No. 38.2 states that: “A person shall not manufacture or import for sale, or distribute free of charge, any article which is not a tobacco product having the appearance of a tobacco product.” Therefore, manufacturing of cinnamon cigarettes and launching of such product is a violation of the Act.   


Given the situation, NATA organised a press briefing with a panel of experts on the subject, to discuss the problem, to gather their opinions and then come to a conclusion.   

 


The panel of experts included of the following;
Sunil Santha Weerasekera, a Governing Board member of NATA, Dr. Rohan Ratnayake, Director Mental Health, Ministry of Health, Dr. Padma Gunaratne, President Sri Lanka Medical Association, Dr. Palitha Abeykoon, former Chairman, NATA, A Representative of Dr. Laknath Welagedera, Chairman, National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, Dr. Haritha Aluthge, Editor, Government Medical Officers’ Association, Dr. Prasad Hendawitharana, Government Ayurvedic Medical Officers’ Association, Dr. Geethal Perera, National Hospital, Dr. Upali Perera, Consultant, National Cancer Control Programme, Dr. Nadarajah Jeyakumaran, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, NCI, T. Suveendran, WHO Sri Lanka, Dr. Manoj Fernando, Senior Lecturer in Health Promotion, Pubudu Sumanasekera, Executive Director, ADIC, Dr. Dhanuja Mahesh, Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr. Mahesh Rajasuriya, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychiatry, University of Colombo.   


NATA Chairman, Dr. Samadhi Rajapaksa briefed the audience about the contradictory status arisen with attempts being made to introduce cinnamon cigarettes which violates the clause 38.2 of the NATA Act. He further explained that Sri Lanka is a Party to Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of the World Health Organisation. Along with several other Articles of the FCTC, NATA has implemented Article 13 which bans Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship of tobacco products under which portraying of smoking scenes through media too is a violation. NATA has already implemented Article 11 of the FCTC, Packaging and Labelling, under which sale of flavoured cigarettes is banned.   


NATA has already referred the matter to the Attorney General for advice on future action. It has also informed the Inspector-General of Police and Department of Excise with regard to enforcement of the law.   


Conclusion: 
Robert Eckford, Associated Legal Director of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) USA, confirms in writing, that attempts to produce a cinnamon cigarette is clearly a violation of Clause No. 38.2 of NATA Act.   

 


The Panel of Experts opined that;
Cinnamon cigarettes would undoubtedly lead children and youth to use a cigarette in a new guise.   


Unlike cinnamon is used as a curry flavour, when burnt whatever material, it is injurious to health.   


Cinnamon cigarette is a “Product Placement” advertisement for tobacco industry. The industry is involved in other products as well, such as e-cigarettes and illicit cigarette trade.   


It is only clear fresh air that can withstand the lungs. Therefore, cannot recommend any smoke and strongly protest against this cigarette.   


It contains all the harmful substances except nicotine. This is definitely a way to tobacco smoke. The road to it should be completely closed.   


Cigarette smoking is the gateway to all the other drugs. 

 
There are ample products that may produce using cinnamon other than cigarettes.   


There is no concept of Ayurvedic cigarettes in traditional medicine, nor had any approval been obtained to use the term “Ayurveda” for this product. No person can misuse the term “Ayurveda”. We would cooperate with relevant parties to institute legal action against this attempt. A cigarette filter is an insult to Ayurveda.   


Should not smoke any kind, whether it is tobacco, cinnamon or any other.   


We have observed women getting affected with lung cancer due to passive smoking. It can be any fume, either tobacco or other. This is revealed through research findings. Even non-tobacco cigarettes can cause cancer through tar, carbon dioxide etc.   


When you burn even cinnamon cigarettes, it will burn some smoke which has carcinogens. In Sri Lanka, lung cancer is high among men. When females start smoking cinnamon cigarettes they too will get lung cancers. Cinnamon is bad when inhaled. Before promoting a product for human use, they should be studied, and follow legal and ethical procedures.   


Sri Lanka received funds for tobacco control for four years. The FCTC extended it for another year, considering the efforts and the results. The FCTC selected only 15 countries to fund out of 60, and Sri Lanka is one of them. However, Sri Lanka is likely to lose WHO funding for tobacco control in Sri Lanka due to the recently introduced cinnamon cigarette. Sri Lanka was an example to the world to study about tobacco control, but due to this illegal cigarette, everything could change.   


Under the WHO - FCTC, 2030 project, Sri Lanka received assistance to undertake a government-wide programme to strengthen tobacco control.   


The main factor in promoting a product is attractive advertising. This product is highlighted under the label of ‘local products’. In a country where health is deteriorating, the government must increase tobacco taxes to boost the economy.   


Under the guise of local products, unpleasant tobacco smoking is happening in a well-planned manner by using the strategy termed “Product Placements”. Efforts to introduce cinnamon cigarettes is such an attempt. We will not allow this to happen in Sri Lanka.   


Cinnamon cigarette manufacturers are targeting youth and children. It is a gateway drug to other drugs. 80 - 90% of current drug users are those who had smoked cigarettes and beedi.   


This is an attempt of the Tobacco Industry - they are trying to popularise cannabis and cinnamon. The cigarette industry is one single octopus attempting various strategies to ruin future generations, and Sri Lanka economy.   
All the experts concluded that this cinnamon cigarette could be a gateway drug to convert non-smokers to active smokers.   


It was also pointed out that as other countries have already done, Sri Lanka should introduce a levy on cigarette butts which is polluting the environment.   

 


Recommendation of the expert panel: 
1. This is a complete violation of the NATA Act. Therefore, it is illegal to produce a product which is not a tobacco product having the appearance of a tobacco product.   


2. The expert panel agreed that it is a gateway drug to other hard drugs, especially for children and women. Hence, should be stopped.   


3. Tobacco control measures are implemented in Sri Lanka now according to FCTC guidelines. Hence, now prevalence is low. It is evident that the tobacco industry is behind the screen to subvert good tobacco control policies being implemented in the country. Cinnamon cigarette too is such an attempt.   


Therefore, the expert panel requests the government to stop introducing this product as a country much concerned about people’s health.   

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