The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Sri Lanka adopts huge picture warnings

SriLanka warningsSri Lanka has passed regulations that mandate some of the largest picture warnings on cigarette packs in the world.

The warnings will cover 80 per cent of the front and back of packages; the text portion of the warning will be in three languages - Sinhala, Tamil and English.

The regulations also ban the use of misleading descriptions, including 'light', 'mild' 'low', 'extra' and 'ultra'.

Once implemented, Sri Lanka will have among the largest cigarette health warnings in the world, along with Australia at 82.5 percent (75 percent front, 90 percent back), and Uruguay at 80 percent (80 percent front and back).

The president of the Sri Lanka National Federation of Smoking and Health, Olcott Gunasekera, said that while the current law prohibits the sale of tobacco products to people under 21, the new warnings will help create greater awareness of the dangers of smoking.

"The warnings will also become a powerful tool for children to convince their parents to stop smoking," said Olcott.

He hopes the new regulation will inspire other countries, especially in the South Asia region, to follow suit.

The Tobacco Products (Labelling and Packaging) Regulation was officially published in the Government of Sri Lanka Gazette on 8 August 2012. It should come into operation three months from the date of publication.

"It will be a tremendous success if we see cigarette packs with health warnings on 8 November 2012, because the industry will have ingenious ways of delaying this from happening," Olcott said.

"Civil society and tobacco control campaigners need to stay focussed and positive to ensure the regulation gets implemented," he added.

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