Sri Lanka: tobacco company requested to pay compensation

In a landmark case, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka ordered the Ceylon Tobacco Company (CTC) to pay Lalitha Padmini Fernando a sum of R.s. 400,000 to compensate her for the death of her husband. The Supreme Court found CTC had prolonged this case for more than 12 years because the company continuously filed petitions in the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. In September 1996, K.S. Perera, a tailor who began smoking tobacco as a teenager, was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer. Prior to his death, Perera filed a lawsuit against the CTC on 11 April 2003 pleading four alleged causes of action and sought Rs 5,000,000. Perera died from his conditions at the age of 60 on 13 April 2003 as a result of smoking cigarettes manufactured by CTC.

Perera and Fernando’s case is similar to the Rolah McCabe’s case against British American Tobacco Australia (BAT) in 2001, the first successful compensation case outside the United States.

The Centre for Combatting Tobacco is the Sri Lankan tobacco observatory established under Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and aims to monitor the tobacco industry’s activities. The CCT has created an information portal called TobaccoUnmasked and contains evidence based information on the tobacco industry. TobaccoUnmasked provides information on the influence and power of tobacco companies relevant to Sri Lanka and their employees, the tobacco industry’s allies, and institutions and individuals linked to the tobacco industry. Sri Lanka has demonstrated commitment to Article 19, which covers issues relating to liability, of the Convention. Article 19 of the WHO FCTC require Parties to “consider taking legislative action or promoting their existing laws, where necessary, to deal with criminal and civil liability, including compensation where appropriate”.

For more information please contact: Mahesh Rajasuriya, Director, CCT at