• May 23, 2024

Herbal project derailed

 Herbal project derailed

A multimillion-rupee project to roll out Sri Lanka’s first-ever locally-produced tobacco- and nicotine-free herbal cigarette has been derailed following unexpected ‘regulatory hiccups’, according to a story in The Island.

And developments surrounding the project have led the Customs department to detain a consignment of one million filter tubes that were being imported to kick-start the project.

The consignment was detained by Customs following objections raised by the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA).

“As the proposed herbal cigarette does not relate to tobacco, NATA is not directly involved, but our expert panel expressed the opinion that it could ‘encourage smoking’, Dr. Palitha Abeykoon, chairman of the regulatory authority, said.

The exasperated investor, P. H. P. Samantha, was quoted as saying that he was devastated.

Under the proposed project, herbal cigarettes were to be manufactured under the brand Lion Heart at a facility in Ambalangoda, a southern area famous for its large-scale cinnamon plantations in the Galle district.

“I anticipated smooth sailing after complying with all the stipulations to secure the import license,” said Samantha. “Fifty machines to manufacture the herbal product were also brought down earlier as the proposed project was given the green light by the authorities.”

The new product was to be aimed at the local market, but there were plans also to export it to Bangladesh, South Korea and Japan.

Samantha said that the product had been tested on key parameters by the Industrial Technology Institute (ITI), ‘where the literature states that it is cancer safe as the cigarette contains 100 percent cinnamon as the key ingredient’.