Supreme Court issues stay in display of pictorial warnings on cigarette packets

cigarette     The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka issued an interim order suspending the implementation of the gazette notice requiring to display pictorial warnings on cigarette packets.

Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) sought the stay order to repel the regulation made by the Minister of Health Maithripala Sirisena under the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Authority Act to label cigarette packets with graphic warnings. The Supreme Court in a majority decision issued an interim order staying Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena’s regulation to display pictorial warnings on cigarette packets.

The appeal was filed by the CTC against the Health Ministry directive requiring 80 percent space in every single cigarette packet allocated to display both printed and pictorial health warnings about the health hazards of smoking.

The application had cited Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena as the first respondent and the Health Ministry Secretary as the second respondent.

 The CTC  challenged the Tobacco Product (Labelling and Packaging) Regulations No. 01 of 2012 dated 8 August 2012 made by the Minister of Health under the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act in the Appeal Court in February this year. The Appellate Court refused to issue a stay order sought by the company and the CTC file a case in the Supreme Court.

According to the regulation, the pictorial health warning shall be printed on both sides of every Cigarette packet, package or carton containing cigarettes and shall cover at least 80 percent of the total area of a packet, package or a carton.

The Ceylon Tobacco Company had claimed that the law did not empower the Minister to implement it, though Minister Sirisena issued a special gazette notification with all the regulations to implement the pictorial warnings on the cigarette packets with effect from November 8, 2012.

The Supreme Court had earlier suggested that the Health Ministry and the Ceylon Tobacco Corporation settle the health warning issue by reducing the size of the picture on cigarette packs.

The Court gave both parties time until March 28 to settle the issue.

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