Sharp drop in tobacco smoking in Sri Lanka
Tobacco smoking has dropped drastically in Sri Lanka during the past
five years due to various steps taken by the Government to discourage
smoking in public, a spokesman for the National Authority on Tobacco and
Alcohol (NATA) said. According to the latest NATA statistics the
percentage of daily smokers in Sri Lanka, especially youngsters has
dropped to 18 percent the lowest rate among 140 countries.
NATA Chairman Prof. Carlo Fonseka told the Sunday Observer that
banning the publication of tobacco related advertisements in newspapers
and television, increasing the tax on cigarettes, banning smoking in
public places, prohibiting cigarette sales for underaged children and
holding smoking related awareness programs for school children are the
main cause for the drop in tobacco smoking in the country. Quoting
National Cancer Institute (NCI), Maharagama statistics, Prof. Fonseka
said over 72 percent patients seek treatment in hospitals for oral and
lung cancer caused due to cigarette smoking.
The remaining patients seek treatment for heart disease and other
ailments, also caused due to tobacco smoking. He said that 22,000 Sri
Lankans die annually due to smoking.
NIC Medical Officer Dr. Samadhi Rajapaksa said 18,000 new cancer
patients seek treatment in hospitals every year and added that the
authorities should launch more awareness programs on the negative
aspects of smoking to reduce this number in the future. He said that
cigarette smoking among the younger generation in the country has
dropped to a large extent due to various steps taken by the Government.