Sri Lanka - NATA to advise government and tobacco industry..

August 2, 2009 - The National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) yesterday stated that the agency was going to closely advise the government and tobacco industry on implementing the Tobacco and Alcohol Act in a better sense.

At the press briefing held at the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Centre, the agency announced serious steps to reduce alcohol and tobacco consumption among people and also prevention of violations of the NATA Act.

NATA Chairman Professor Carlo Fonseka cited the vast social and health harms caused by tobacco and alcohol consumption and expressed NATA’s dedication to get rid of the various violations of law that promoted the dreaded substances. “Young people in our country should have the opportunity to engage in enjoyable recreational opportunities without risking their health,” stressed Professor Fonseka.

He further added that continuous promotional activities by the tobacco industry were a grave concern and these activities attracted new users, reassure existing users and make it difficult for smokers to quit their habit.

Debra Efroymson, Tobacco Control Advisor to the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, stressed on the vital role of media in the control of tobacco. “Are the taxes paid by the industry really more important than the lives taken away by the industry’s cigarettes? Does the industry plant and care for more trees than farmers burn down to grow and cure tobacco? If the industry was genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of the people, would it continue pedalling a dangerous addictive substance,” questioned Efroymson. She added that despite the ad bans, the industry was still able to use the media for its cause via various articles and stories which were meant to delude the public.

NATA Coordinator Dr. Prasanna Cooray stressed on the specific plans and commitments of NATA and further strengthening enforcement of the tobacco and alcohol Act.

“We have full sympathy for those addicted to tobacco and alcohol but antipathy is what we project towards those whose business is to promote and sell deadly products,” said Professor Fonseka.

Reference: Realizing Tobacco, Alcohol Act: NATA to advise industry by Sarah Kellapatha and Amira Cader, Daily Mirror, 7/29/2009.

Sri Lanka - related news brief: Sri Lanka - Industry gimmick to entice youth to smoking..; Sri Lanka - huge drop in tobacco smoking..