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Govt loses Rs 42 bn in smoking related health spending

Today is World No Tobacco Day (May 31). Annually around 25,000 Sri Lankans die due to smoking and related health issues.

Sri Lanka was the first Asian country and the fourth country in the world to ratify WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

According to Health Ministry sources, the Sri Lankan Government receives Rs. 100 billion as tax from tobacco but spends Rs 142 billion to treat people who fall sick with Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

The loss is Rs. 42 billion. In Sri Lanka 24 percent of men and 2.3 percent of women smoke. Bhutan is the least smoking country in the region and Sri Lanka comes second. Sri Lankan schoolchildren experiment to smoke between age 13 and 18. Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne has presented a cabinet paper to ban cigarette sales within a radius of 500 meters from a school, sources said.

Another cabinet paper had been submitted to ban the sale of cigarettes in loose form. Plain packaging will be introduced for cigarette packets soon, the sources added.

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