Rajitha up in arms over ‘smart’ cigarette packs

By Skandha Gunasekara

Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine and Co-cabinet Spokesman, Rajitha Seneratne, said that the ‘smart’ cigarette packed by the Ceylon Tobacco Company was a counter measure to the Government’s plans to ban the sale of loose cigarettes.

Responding to a question by a journalist as to whether such ‘smart’ cigarette packets would be entertained by the Government, the Minister said that it was a tactic to subvert the Governments proposal to halt the sale of loose cigerattes.

“This is their way of responding to the ban proposed by Ministry on the sale of loose cigarettes. They want to introduce a smaller cigarette packet to make it more affordable to buy cigarettes, especially for those who cannot spend Rs 1000 plus on a 20 pack of cigarettes,”

In response to a query by the media as to whether the increase in taxes for tobacco and alcohol was a method to increase Government revenue, the Minister replied in the negative.

“Our objective of increasing taxes on tobacco and thereby increasing the price for consumers was to reduce the numbers smoking tobacco. That objective is being met as we have statistics to show that tobacco users have decreased,”

He said that thus far there has been no decision to increase taxes on tobacco and alcohol once again.