I felicitate you Mr. Chairman and the Bureau on your well-deserved election and assure you of the full cooperation of the Sri Lanka delegation in the successful conduct of this important conference.
Sri Lanka participated actively in the negotiation process of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Consequently, we were the first country in the region and fourth in the world to ratify this first ever public health treaty. This is indeed a matter of pride for our nation and for our region.
In order to follow up on our ratification, the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health conducted an Inter-ministerial Conference on FCTC Implementation inviting all relevant stakeholders in January, 2004. The objective of this conference was to establish a mechanism for smooth implementation of provisions identified in the FCTC. Planning for multi-sectoral tobacco control strategies was extremely important, as the health sector alone could not implement a comprehensive tobacco control policy and programme in the country. We have set a firm initiative for collaborative action towards FCTC implementation in Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Health will play the leading role as the focal point, ensuring coordinated action by relevant stakeholders.
We realize that a comprehensive national legislation for tobacco control is needed for implementation of our obligations as a Party to the treaty. While planning for expansion of the scope of existing legislative measures, the Government is already committed to this cause and a comprehensive Act of Parliament is under preparation.
While waiting for these legislative measures, we are pleased to inform that our awareness campaigns and other effective tobacco control strategies have already enabled a reduction of consumption by 4% and there is growing public awareness of the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Sri Lanka would like to reiterate its dedication to protect present and future generations from the tobacco epidemic in our country and we do affirm our commitment to the global community by supporting and implementing FCTC provisions to the highest levels.