The Cabinet recently decided to impose a 15 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on cigarettes, increase the current production tax to Rs. 5, and increase the cess on beedi leaf imports from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 3,000, to curb smoking in the country.

Despite appeals from industry stakeholders, the tax increases will be implemented with the intervention of President Maithripala Sirisena and Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne.

This move is aimed at reducing cigarette consumption in Sri Lanka, where 15 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 69 smoke, causing the Government to spend Rs. 72 billion each year to treat tobacco-related illnesses.