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Mathata Thitha taking effect:

Marked drop in alcohol, tobacco use

With the anti-alcohol and anti-tobacco policies pursued by the present Government from 2005 under President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Mathata Thitha policy the consumption of tobacco among school children and adults had been reduced considerably at present, a Global Youth Tobacco Survey had found. Accordingly, tobacco consumption among schoolchildren has declined from 5 percent in 1997 to 0.9 percent at present while among adults tobacco consumption has dropped from 13 percent in 1997 to 5 percent at present.

This was stated by National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Chairman Prof. Carlo Fonseka at a press conference held at the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Centre yesterday.

Prof Fonseka said NATA would take serious steps to reduce tobacco and alcohol use particularly focused on preventing violations of the NATA Act.

He said President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the first national leader to include anti-alcohol, anti-tobacco and anti-drug policies as a high national priority. In fact the Mathata Thitha policy comes in the first chapter of the Mahinda Chintana policy manifesto and terrorism was mentioned in the eighth chapter.

Terrorism had been defeated and tobacco,alcohol and drugs would also be eradicated with stringent measures.

NATA Coordinator Dr. Prasanna Cooray said the Act. 27 on the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol of 2006 prohibited the sale of tobacco and alcohol to any person under 21 years of age but some of the companies and individuals selling these products were using ruses to go round the law in promoting these products. Therefore, it would be necessary to amend the Act to strengthen it though some positive results were obtained by this Act.

Though it was prohibited to advertise tobacco and alcohol products indirect methods were being used to advertise them. The Police, Excise, Health as well as the Samurdhi and Agriculture departments with the assistance of religious leaders will form community based organizations to prevent the alcohol, drugs and tobacco habits at district and regional level under the NATA Dr. Cooray said.

He also said the cultivation of tobacco in the north and east would also be discouraged as it would cause destruction to the soil while also bringing in destruction to the farmer community. Instead farmers should be encouraged to grow food grains like maize and other food crops, he noted.

 

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