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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2064

Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena blasts tobacco industry for attempting to bribe

By Manjari Peiris
Colombo, 26 September, (Asian Tribune.com):

The Minister of Health Sri Lanka, yesterday made a shocking revelation proving the worldwide well established notorious demeanor of the tobacco industry, their attempts to bribe politicians, policy makers and journalists etc., to hinder bringing in people friendly health policies in the country.

Generally laws are meant to protect the people of a country, but very strangely the tobacco industry demand and seek legal remedy for them to further engage in “man slaughtering”. Whoever supports such mean attempts in whatever manner to gain “wealth and benefits” holding whatever position, is a traitor, to a society, a country and the world.

Any day the result of engagement in such evil doing and supporting such ‘Vicious’ industry in crafty manner in whatever capacity, WILL have to be borne by the evil doer.

The tobacco industry in Sri Lanka states that they contributed rupees 26 billion to the government last year as tax on cigarettes. This money was not paid by the industry, but by the poor smokers who had been enticed and deceived by the industry without revealing the harmful effects of smoking. The tobacco industry has been unfaithful to its customers by refusing to portray pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets. The government spends money to treat tobacco victims who are in hospitals which is more than ten times of tobacco tax paid by the industry. Tobacco smoking makes a person sick and dies in their productive years which are a loss to the society and the families where smokers are the breadwinners of those families.

Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena stated that the tobacco industry had attempted to bribe him to block the issuance of the special gazette notification which made it mandatory for tobacco companies to print pictorial health warnings covering 80 percent of the principal area of each packet of cigarettes.

The Minister said the money offered to him was adequate to purchase properties for 15 generations of his family in one of world’s “happiest” countries which he rejected outright since he values his country and the well-being of the people. “A study places Sri Lanka at the 137th position among 194 in a list of the “world’s happiest countries.” he said.

According to the Minister, the tobacco industry had sent some people to him for a discussion while others wanted to see him at home or in Parliament. Many in the tobacco industry had wanted him to stop his anti smoking campaign. But the Minister did not want the money offered by the multinational tobacco companies, he said; “I would never betray my country and my people to any multinational company, I would never give up my struggle.”

Tobacco industry had repeatedly tried to approach the Minister when he was in Parliament, at home and in office. But he had not met them since he did not have anything to talk with them.”In terms of past history, all who fought against multinational companies were killed.”

“There is a possibility of assassinating me or my character. May be this decision will decide my political destiny. But I will never ever give into the tobacco industry. There are many organizations and the public who are supporting my crusade. I will somehow implement the 80 percent pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets with the assistance of all of them.” the Minister affirmed.

The Minister further stated that arrangement would be made to educate school children in Sri Lanka on the harmful effects of smoking. “Children, wives and shop owners would be asked to prevent their loved ones and the public from smoking.”

This revelation was made by the Minister at a felicitation ceremony held in Polonnaruwa Royal College, Rajarata Vidyalaya and Palugasdamana Vidyalaya.

- Asian Tribune -

Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena - File Photo
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