The Lion Brewery Ceylon Ltd., et al. v. Hon. Attorney General, et al.
The leading manufacturers/producers of tobacco and alcohol products sued the Attorney General and others challenging the constitutionality of the “National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol” Bill. The Bill advises the government on the implementation of the Tobacco and Alcohol Policy and recommends measures to minimize harm and eliminate the illicit trade arising from the consumption of tobacco and alcohol products. The Bill also creates new offences, particularly with regard to the sale of tobacco and alcohol products and the promotion of such sale by means of advertising and sponsorship of sports and cultural events. The manufacturers argue that the production and sale of tobacco and alcohol, directly affected by the Bill, are lawful trades unlike the illicit trade in alcohol and drugs and that since the lawful trade is sought to be restricted in the manner set out in the Bill, it is discriminatory and denies them the freedom of expression and equal protection of the law as guaranteed by the Constitution. The Court found that specific provisions of the legislation were inconsistent with the Constitution but, taken as a whole, the legislation is valid. The Court noted that it is the duty of the State to take such measures as envisaged in the Bill in the face of the proven risk to public health resulting from the use/consumption of tobacco and alcohol products.