Sri Lanka was the first SEARO country to ratify the FCTC and the fourth in world. Current national tobacco and alcohol regulations prohibit smoking in any enclosed public place except (a) hotels, guest houses or lodges with 30 rooms or more; (b) restaurants or clubs with a seating capacity of 30 or more people; (c) airports. The 2006 tobacco and alcohol law assumes that DSRs and ventilation protect health and is therefore not FCTC compliant. Proposals were made by Olcott Gunaskera for 100% smokefree indoor places by the end of 2008.
Speaking at the first session of the INB on illicit trade in Geneva in February 2008, the Healthcare and Nutrition Minister, Nimal Siripala, said that the government is “taking steps to strengthen the provisions of tobacco and alcohol law to make its implementation more effective.” Amendments to the law include “some of the recommendations of the Committee A to the Conference of the Parties guidelines on protection from exposure to tobacco smoke”.
A Colloquium on FCTC Advocacy with special reference to Article 8 was held on 27 February 2009 in Colombo (photos were provided). The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, who is also the Chairman of the National Health Council, attended. At the Colloquium it was reported that amendments to the existing law, including provisions for 100% smokefree public places and workplaces, have been finalised. The Colloquium was organized by the Sri Lanka National Federation on Smoking and Health with the collaboration of the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre. The support of religious and community leaders has been solicited to support 100% smokefree legislation. Banners and posters are being exhibited in support of Article 8 and a postcard campaign is also under way.
Smokefree resources available in 2009
Sri Lanka National Federation on Smoking and Health (SLNFSH) OG President
Alcohol and Drug Information Centre www.adicsrilanka.org
Sri Lanka Federation of NGOs Against Drug Abuse – FONGOADA www.ifngo.org
Bloomberg Initiative grants (see www.tobaccocontrolgrants.org)
Project to strengthen existing pack warning legislation and expand existing smokefree places; to launch an advocacy campaign targeted towards government officials in order to strengthen government commitment to existing tobacco control legislation; to launch a media campaign targeted towards civil society to raise awareness of FCTC regulations and tobacco control; and to build awareness of law enforcement officials on the enforcement of this ban.
National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA)
Project to strengthen NATA to properly implement, enforce and ensure compliance with the statutes for tobacco control, focusing on development of regulations/rules of various provisions of the tobacco control act. Enforce MPOWER (WHO, 2008).
Public education materials/implementation or enforcement materials
Copies of Article 8 Guidelines have been posted to NATA and other concerned persons, and are being translated into local languages for public education (The official version of the Guidelines were posted to the web only on 25 February 2009).
Excerpts from the 2006 US Surgeon General’s Report and the WHO Policy Paper on ‘Protection from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke’ have been translated into local languages and will be published as public education material.
Needs related to implementing smokefree policies
More advocacy/lobbying is required until the necessary changes are made to the current law. NATA and health ministry officials have accepted that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that 100% elimination of smoking from indoor environments is the only science-based measure to protect health.
The smokefree law needs to be adapted to make it FCTC compliant.
Factors helping or hindering the implementation of Article 8
The need for legislative reform has been accepted. What hinders is the slow process in bringing about the necessary changes to the law.
Other countries that have influenced smokefree laws
A WHO SEARO Inter-Country Workshop on Tobacco Control Legislation was held in Colombo from 4-5 December 2008 (MPOWER). Copy of Declaration provided.
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