Health and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne told Parliament yesterday that the government would completely ban tobacco cultivation in the country by the year 2020.
Responding to a question raised by UNP Matara District MP Buddhika Pathirana, the Minister said that a programme was in place to introduce alternative crops to the 30,000 odd farmers currently involved in tobacco cultivation.
Minister Senaratne said the sale of cigarettes within a 500 metre radius of a school as well as the sale of a single or ‘loose’ cigarettes would be banned and that Cabinet had given its approval for both initiatives.
“Thereafter if anybody wants to buy a cigarette, he should buy a packet. Plain packaging will also be introduced in the near future. All these steps are intended to discourage smoking. Sri Lanka received the accolades of the World Health Organization for the stiff action taken by the Government to discourage smoking,” he said.