Tobacco Cultivation in Sri Lanka- The Past, Present and the Future

A National Forum on “Tobacco Cultivation in Sri Lanka- Past, Present and the Future” was conducted by the Centre for Combating Tobacco (CCT), Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo in collaboration with Presidential Task Force on Drug Prevention on Tuesday 27th, February 2018 at Colombo. This forum was based on a scientific research conducted by the CCT team in the five major tobacco cultivation districts in Sri Lanka.
Dr. Samantha Kithalawaarachchi, Director, Presidential Task Force on Drug Prevention, Dr. Mahesh Rajasuirya, Director CCT, Dr. Manuja Perera, Editor of TobaccoUnmasked and CCT members led the forum. The research findings were presented by the CCT team to a forum consisting of national and field level stakeholders and media personnel. Stakeholders included government officers from Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation engineers, Samurdhi Development officers, Social Development officers, Medical officers, Public Health Inspectors (PHIs), Medical students, and community activists in tobacco control. The presentations were followed by a discussion on way-forward led by Directors of Presidential Task Force on Drug Prevention and Centre for Combating Tobacco.
In a speech that followed, Mr. Hemantha Amarasinghe, Director, Technology Division, Ministry of Agriculture declared that the circular to ban tobacco cultivation in Sri Lanka by 2020 will be ready by the Yala season. Further he revealed the plans to introduce alternative crops to farmers who grow tobacco.
Participants suggested to publish a small booklet on “Health Effects of Tobacco Cultivation” to distribute among farmers and the general public to increase awareness.
The event was reported in the news of national television channels including state media channels and received wide coverage in national newspapers.