The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed thousands of lives worldwide. As expected with any respiratory illness, there is clear evidence that smokers are much more vulnerable to COVID-19 than non-smokers. This blog discusses how smokers can make the crisis worse and provides short term policy recommendations that can help control the spread of the disease in Sri Lanka. In particular, the blog makes a compelling case for imposing a temporary ban on cigarette sales in Sri Lanka.
Despite multiple measures by successive governments to bring down tobacco prevalence in Sri Lanka, still more than one in four males use tobacco. Reducing smoking prevalence is also identified as one of the concerns in the manifesto of the newly elected president of Sri Lanka. This blog argues that bringing down tobacco prevalence further will entail tightening tobacco control policies and initiating focused measures targeting difficult-to-reach groups.