As a result of the Tobacco and Alcohol Control Authority coming into force, smoking in prohibited places under the Act had reduced by 90 per cent. However Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva has appointed a committee to amend the Act to include public places like roads and lanes which were not included in the Act The Authority hopes that with strict enforcement of this amendment, smoking in prohibited places could be reduced to nearly 100 per cent, if the Police and Excise authorities enforce the law strictly.
However, there had been a number of incidents since the Act came into force where ignorant policemen have charged people for smoking on the roads despite it not being an offence. The Courts, too, on many occasions, had fined them when the police informed the Magistrate that accused had been smoking in a prohibited area. The accused, too, had been unaware of whether he had committed an offence or not.
An OIC of a city Police station when contacted, at the very outset of the enactment of the Act, as to how they apprehend people under the Tobacco and Alcohol Control Authority Act, said that the whole thing looks so ambiguous that he was waiting until some enterprising guy challenges the whole thing in the Supreme Court and gets a ruling, so that a very clear stand would emerge and that he could act thereafter.
With the ban on drinking at prohibited places, beer consumption, too, had dropped by 40 per cent the Minister said.
Minister de Silva said that the Committee to be appointed would study the inclusion of the provision prohibiting smoking on roads in the Act. Since the Tobacco and Alcohol Act came into effect beer consumption had dropped by 40 per cent and smoking by 90 percent in the country.
He added that the government was of the view that as soon as the amendment to the Act is passed by parliament, smoking on roads would be a punishable offence.