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
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