Reply to misleading article published in Daily FT

This is a response I wrote to an article on the implications on the anti tobacco policies of the government.

Subject: Implications of the proposed ban of the sale of loose cigarettes in Sri Lanka. From: perera_d94@yahoo.com To: sripathitishani@gmail.com; Contact_CTC@bat.com; editor@ft.lk Date: Tuesday, April 17, 2018, 2:09:25 PM GMT+5:30

Dear Ms Tishani Sripathi,

I write to you following reading your article in the Daily FT. First let me congratulate you on being published within a widely read newspaper. Your article is very well written. I however must take point with three issues.
Firstly, you state that the recent past has seen a drastic increase in the taxation on cigarettes. This is a dishonest framing of the tax increase. As articulated by the health minister and the finance minister this increase in tax was to keep in line with the long-term growth in income of the general population. Cigarette taxation had not changed under the previous regime due to undue influence by Ceylon Tobacco. From a long-term perspective, the increase in taxation though sudden was justified. The tax increase was also not so drastic as to create a huge illicit industry as you suggest. The fines and enforcement on illegal tobacco have increased commendably over the same period.

Secondly you state that the latest proposal was to ban the sale of cigarettes near schools. This is false as the most recent publicly known proposal regarding tobacco is the ban of sale to people under the age of 21. The proposal was made to curb people from beginning smoking when they enter university. This has been mentioned in the general press.

The third and final issue is with regards to your statement of self-control. You make the unsubstantiated claim that people purchase cigarettes on an individual basis to control consumption. There is no evidence for this claim. It is outlandish to even suggest it.

The public must remain opposed to the consumption of tobacco as it is a serious health concern. Smokers should have to purchase a license to smoke and this should increase their costs of insurance and limit their access to public services. Ceylon Tobacco is known to promote articles like yours in the general press and it is shameless that you would decide to write on their behalf. The ministry of health has stood firm against a powerful multinational.

Due to the seriousness of the points raised I believe you and the Daily FT should immediately retract the given article.

Kind Regards
Dinesh Anthony Perera
A concerned citizen

Article available at time of posting at

http://www.ft.lk/opinion/Implications-of-the-imposed-ban-on-the-sale-of-loose-cigarettes-in-Sri-Lanka/14-653319

Implications of the imposed ban on the sale of loose cigarettes in Sri Lanka _ FT Online

Response published in the Daily FT on the 20th of April

http://www.ft.lk/opinion/Implications-of-proposed-ban-on-sale-of-loose-cigarettes-in-Sri-Lanka–A-response/14-653566

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