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Imports refused

19 Jun 2019. Sri Lanka’s Health Minister, Dr Rajitha Senaratne, said on 17 June he will not allow the import of foreign cigarettes into the country, Daily FT reported.

Senaratne’s statement comes after Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera announced two weeks ago that the government was considering allowing cigarette imports to meet demands of foreign – especially Chinese – workers in the country. Senaratne added that authorising imports for the benefit of an expatriate community would serve as a precursor to authorising imports from other countries, undermining and destabilising efforts to curb cigarette smoking in the country, and such a situation must be avoided at all costs, the report said. The Health Minister said that he would work to ensure that no foreign cigarettes were allowed into the country, whilst at the same time stopping local cigarette production.

According to the report, the WHO and the UNDP praised the efforts of the Sri Lankan government in tobacco control and identified the country as “a leading nation in the effort to ban tobacco use”.