Beyond Plain Packaging
Edited by Alberto Alemanno and Enrico Bonadio
Chapter 7: Challenges in achieving public health objectives through product labelling regulation: reflections on Sri Lankan trademark and constitutional law
Although Sri Lanka is a nation with a rich and deep-rooted history premised upon the teachings of the Buddhist tradition, it has adopted a much less conservative attitude towards the consumption, sale and promotion of alcohol and tobacco products, until recently. While there remains an express prohibition in Buddhist scripture in respect of the consumption of alcohol, the law merely prohibits the sale of alcohol products on Full Moon Poya Days, a key Buddhist public holiday in Sri Lanka. On the other hand, no such restriction applies to the sale of tobacco, which probably is more harmful to human health than alcohol, although entails a lesser degree of moral objection. It was not until recently that the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act 2006 (the NATA Act) was enacted, which to a significant extent circumscribed the freedom of alcohol and tobacco companies operating in Sri Lanka. Given the impact that the NATA Act has on alcohol and tobacco companies, it was not surprising that the said law’s constitutionality was challenged at the bill stage.
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