The Island Newspaper Misquoting TobaccoUnmasked

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Background

The Island is a daily national newspaper in Sri Lanka published in English language. It is published by the Upali Newspapers (Pvt) Ltd. located on Bloemendhal Road, Colombo 13. The other newspapers from the same newspaper company are The Sunday Island, Divayina, Irida Divayina, Navaliya, Vidusara and Sujaya.[1][2] As of 2017, the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Upali Newspapers was Nimal W W Welgama. The Island newspaper Editors were:[1]

  • Chief Editor – Prabath Sahabandu
  • News Editor – Shamindra Ferdinando

The complete list of Editors of the Upali Newspapers (Pvt) Ltd. can be found in the Guide to Media 2017 published by the Department of Government Information.

According the to the latest available Print Media Analysis Fact Sheet of Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC), The Island was the daily English newspaper that published the highest number of articles promoting tobacco, alcohol and other drugs in the reported quarter (June to August 2016).[3]

Misinforming the Public

On 12th September 2017, The Island published an article headlined “Govt.’s war on tobacco increases smuggling of cigarettes and beedi consumption” (Image 1). Authored by Saman Indrajith, the article declares government actions to control tobacco are counterproductive.[4]

Image 1: Saman Indrajith’s article on The Island Newspaper published on 12th September 2017[4]
Image 2: The image quoted by the article as published in the TobaccoUnmasked page Industry Arguments: Increase of Beedi Consumption[5]

Misquoting the Director of Centre for Combating Tobacco (CCT)

The article states Director/CCT “told the Island that that the beedi consumption has doubled in recent times reducing the consumption of cigarettes to less than 60 percent”.[4] Director CCT was contacted by Indrajith twice on the 11th September 2017 (prior day) evening, at 4.46 pm and 7.23 pm on his private mobile number. The call was from the general number of the Upali Newspapers (Pvt) Ltd. +94 112 497 500.[2] The two telephone conversations lasted 2 minutes 59 seconds and 2 minutes 40 seconds respectively, in which Director/CCT did not make the aforementioned statement.

Misquoting a TobaccoUnmasked Page

Indrajith, in his article further quotes an image mentioning “Source: Centre for Combating Tobacco”. The image is actually an image from the Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) annual report 2015, quoted by the TobaccoUnmasked page Industry Arguments: Increase of Beedi Consumption to highlight the CTC’s claim on increase of beedi use. That fact is clearly mentioned in the text and the image title (Image 2). Further, the aforementioned TobaccoUnmasked page reported that contemporary scientific research gives contradictory findings to the information published by the CTC.[5]


Other TobaccoUnmasked Resources

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Department of Government Information. Guide to Media 2017, 2017, accessed September 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 SLT Rainbow Pages. Upali Newspapers (Pvt) Ltd, 2017, accessed September 2017
  3. Alcohol and Drug Information Centre. Print & Electronic Media Analysis: Print Media June-August. Colombo: ADIC 2017
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 S Indrajith. Govt.’s war on tobacco increases smuggling of cigarettes and beedi consumption. The Island, 12th September 2017, accessed September 2017
  5. 5.0 5.1 TobaccoUnmasked. Industry Arguments: Increase of Beedi Consumption, 3 August 2017, accessed September 2017