The Cabinet of Ministers last week discussed the draft amendments to the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol bill which includes the new proposal to ban the consumption of alcohol and tobacco in all public places, and the ban of sales in a radius of 500 metres of any place frequented by children and young adults.
The proposals also include a clause to empower public health inspectors and excise officials to arbitrarily suspend sales and other related activity.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had appointed a committee to review the feasibility of these proposals and their implications and results before implementation.
Following the increase of tobacco prices in October last year, the Government is estimated to have lost over Rs. 50 billion in revenue with the growth of illicit smuggled products.
Tobacco retailers meet Finance Minister on concerns
The Sri Lanka Tobacco Retailer’s Association met newly appointed Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera at the Ministry of Finance last week to highlight several issues facing traders and tobacco sales.
They pointed out that its membership of over 100,000 have been severely affected following the Government’s price hike on tobacco products in October last year, resulting in severe losses for the trade.
This has impacted livelihoods as this also affects sales of other products, which are purchased by tobacco consumers, they said, adding that many consumers are seen switching to illicit products.
They requested the Minister maintain prices of legal tobacco products at reasonable levels, not to implement the proposed ban on stick sales and to not introduce regulations that will affect their business and livelihoods in a drastic manner.
They added that tobacco traders have conducted business in an ethical manner respecting the laws and regulations with respect to the tobacco trade, and requested the Finance Minister to consider their position for future policy making.