Tobacco firms accused

    Sri Lanka’s Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne yesterday accused some locally-based tobacco companies of being involved in a ‘racket to mislead the public on the use of cigarettes in the country,’ according to a story in The Colombo Gazette.

    Senaratne said that some companies were importing illicit cigarettes and distributing them in the market to give the impression that there was a high number of people smoking cigarettes in the country.

    He said that Sri Lanka had implemented nine out of the 10 recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) on limiting the use of cigarette use in the country.

    The Minister said also that taxes on cigarettes had been increased to discourage their use.

    It wasn’t clear from the story whether the minister believed that tobacco companies were using the illegal trade to promote, say, the normalization of smoking within society; or whether such promotion was a side-line of the money-making scheme that is the illegal trade.