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Alcohol and tobacco: NATA ready to tighten screws



NATA Chairman Dr. Samadhi Rajapaksa says that amendments will be be introduced to the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act (No. 27 of 2006) soon to ban the sale of single cigarettes and 180 ml (quarter) bottles of liquor.

Addressing a workshop on preparing an action plan to curtail the use of tobacco and alcohol for countrywide health education officials at Waters Edge Hotel in Battaramulla last week, Dr Rajapaksa said that NATA hoped to introduce revolutionary measures within the next five years to ensure that the country was safe from the harm caused by alcohol and tobacco.

He said that existing laws would be changed to empower the legal framework to curtail alcohol and tobacco use and to introduce new policies. The powers vested in Medical Officers of Health, Assistant Medical Officers of Health and Customs officers would be enhanced to make their services against alcohol and tobacco effective.

Dr Rajapaksa said that certain persons smoke in public places even though they knew they were violating the law. He added that stringent legal action should be taken against them. As per the law, enclosed public places were smoking free zones. Laws would be changed to ban smoking in all public places, he said.

Dr. Rajapaksa said that sale of products made from betel and areca nut would be regulated. As per the existing law, the sale of betel with tobacco was banned but that law was not properly enforced.

The sale of 180 ml bottles of liquor had increased in the recent times and consequently anti-social activities had increased. Empty bottles were discarded haphazardly. 

He recommended that tax on tobacco and alcohol should be increased. Even though the government received more revenue via the consumption of those items it would decline if taxes were increased. However, health hazards caused to people could be minimised.  

“Increasing the taxes on alcohol and tobacco is a strategy approved by the World Health Organisation to reduce their consumption. However, the businessmen here found a method to ensure the access of low income by selling cigarettes single (loose) and by promoting quarter bottles of 180 ml liquor.”

Director of Health Promotion Bureau Dr Palitha Karunaprema also addressed the workshop. 



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?



… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.



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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others



The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.



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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area



Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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