The policy influencing strategy for the first phase of the IPS KIVU Tobacco Control Programme (2019 – 2021) was framed around the ‘Last Mile’ approach. This emphasised lowering smoking prevalence in Sri Lanka to below 10% by focusing on reducing prevalence among the high prevalence smoking groups using a variety of approaches. Some of these approaches included promoting tax increases, advocating the ban of single sticks, and studies aimed at refuting industry arguments to block tobacco control policies.
Given Sri Lanka’s current economic context, the first year of the IPS KIVU Tobacco Control Extension Programme (2021-2023) focused on promoting the increase of cigarette taxes using a formula to adjust tax increases in line with inflation and income growth. The second phase of this Tobacco Control programme will focus on advocating policy changes using insider influence, which will be complemented by social media activity, selective media, and strategic communication activities.
The objectives of this study include the continuation of promoting a tobacco tax increase for cigarettes in the coming year, as evidence shows that such an increase will enhance government revenue, reduce import expenditure, and reduce government expenditure (by reducing expenditure on health). Furthermore, the study aims to call for the introduction of a tax on beedi, as it will not only increase government revenue but also reduce the import bill since the majority of inputs for beedi production are imported. Additionally, this phase of the study looks to understand the changing political-economic setting to identify the best means of influencing policy.