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Rajitha to reimpose 80% pictorial warning

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Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine, Rajitha Senaratne yesterday vowed that the government would bring back the 80% pictorial health warning on the cigarette packets as promised, despite concerns it would be a direct challenge to an earlier decision handed down by the Appeals Court.

“Parliament is the supreme body so we will take it to the Parliament and make sure to have mandatory pictorial health warnings to be displayed on packets of cigarettes covering 80% of the total area of a pack.” he said.

If the minister is to take the issue to the Parliament, he will be directly challenging the Court of Appeal’s decision which is to have 50% to 60% pictorial health warnings on the surface of a packet of cigarettes.

The Court of Appeal granted permission to the Ministry of Health to cover 50-60% of the cigarette packet with a pictorial health warning. However, the ministry initially demanded regulations requiring tobacco products to contain graphic pictorial health warnings on 80% of the pack. The Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) later sued the Ministry claiming the regulations exceed the authority of the Ministry and also violated the company’s intellectual property rights.

In the Court of Appeal decision it was also held that the law on tobacco does provide the Ministry with authority to require pictorial health warnings, not just textual warnings and the size of the warnings between 50% to 60% of the cigarette pack in order to give tobacco companies more space in which to display their trademark.

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