ILLEGAL DRUGS IN SRI LANKA
Cannabis use: percentage of the population aged 15–64: 1.5 percent (2000, compared to 27 percent in Israel, 16.2 percent in the United States and .3 percent in Japan [Source: World Drug reports of 2011 and 2006 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Wikipedia Wikipedia ]
Opiates use: percentage of the population aged 15–64: .30 percent (2016, compared to 3.31 percent in Iran, 1.04 percent in the United States and .004 percent in Singapore. [Source: World Drug reports of 2011 and 2006 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Wikipedia Wikipedia ]
Drug use deaths (per 100,000 people): 0.81 (compared to 15.93 in Ukraine and 0.30 in Japan). In Sri Lanka the death rate is 1.41 per 100,000 for males and .28 per 100,000 for females [Source: World Health Organization, World Life Expectancy worldlifeexpectancy.com ]
Cocaine is virtually unknown in Sri Lanka today. But that wasn’t always so. In the mid-19th century, British control of India, Sri Lanka and the surrounding territories was extended and consolidated. It was during this period that the international trade in cannabis and hashish originating in Afghanistan and British India intensified — as well as that in opium and cocaine. In fact, by around 1860 Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was then known) was actually home to several coca plantations run by the British, which may have still been in operation by the start of the Second World War. [Source: Sensi Seeds]
Drug Laws in Sri Lanka
Because of the traditionally accepted roles of both opium and hashish in indigenous ayurvedic medicine, the population of Sri Lanka has historically been tolerant of the use of a variety of psychoactive drugs (see Health). As a result, the government has been slow to identify drug abuse as an issue meriting national attention, and until the late 1970s, no efforts were made to quantify the problem. In 1978 the Narcotics Advisory Board of Sri Lanka coordinated the first systematic field investigation of drug abuse. The survey revealed that opium, cannabis, and barbiturates were the drugs most commonly used for nonmedical purposes, and that the majority of drug abusers were under forty years old (for cannabis, 48 percent were between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five). Between 1975 and 1979, an average of 4,000 persons per year were arrested for drug-related offenses, while an additional 3,000 people sought help for drug problems. A 1980 government survey estimated between 3,500 and 5,800 opium dependents and between 16,000 and 18,000 chronic cannabis users. Based on the World Health Organization conversion factor of ten actual drug abusers for every one identified, the government estimated a total usage level as high as 1.5 percent of the population. [Source: Russell R. Ross and Andrea Matles Savada, Library of Congress, 1988 *]
The delayed appearance of drug abuse among the issues of national concern is reflected in the state of antidrug legislation. As of 1981, one of the major statutes on the books was the Poisons, Opium, and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance. Although it has been amended several times since its enactment in 1929, the ordinance was seriously outdated for a society in the 1980s. It divides drugs into five categories (poisons; poppy, coca, and hemp; opium; dangerous drugs; and other drugs) and regulates their import, export, and domestic trade. Rather than attempting to define dangerous drugs, the ordinance simply appends a list of forbidden substances, and this has permitted greater flexibility in amending the law to suit changes in society. More recent efforts to regulate drug abuse include the Cosmetics, Devices, and Drugs Act of 1980, which requires companies trading legal drugs to obtain a license from the director of health services. This provision has given an important avenue for the authorities to monitor the import and export of pharmaceuticals. In spite of the government's efforts to eliminate illegal drugs, the strong Buddhist constituency has insisted on the legitimacy of traditional medical practices, and the Ayurvedic Act of 1961 assures ayurvedic physicians of continued legal access to opium. Because drug addiction in Sri Lanka has been far less prevalent than in the West, and because terrorism and insurgency have strained to the utmost the nation's security assets, a concerted campaign on illegal substance abuse is likely to await a return to normal conditions in the country.*
Cannabis in Sri Lanka
Potent, long-flowering varieties of cannabis around found in Sri Lanka. According to Sensi Seeds: “cannabis is thought to have first arrived in East Africa around 700 years ago (records suggest Arab traders brought it to Mozambique from Asia in around the 13th century), so it is likely that cannabis has been known and utilised on the island long before this. There is ample evidence that cannabis and hashish was actively traded throughout the medieval period in Asia, Africa and the Arab world. Cannabis was also in minor use for its fibre and seeds, and remains so to this day in some rural areas. [Source: Sensi Seeds sensiseeds.com
In 1675, the Dutch colonial rulers of the time issued a decree banning the trafficking of narcotics including opium and cannabis, suggesting that an active trade had been going on for some time prior to the edict.In the mid-19th century, British control of India and the surrounding territories was extended and consolidated. It was during this period that the international trade in cannabis and hashish originating in Afghanistan and British India increased.
Cannabis is by far the most commonly used illicit drug in Sri Lanka today, followed by heroin, which is increasingly en vogue amongst youths in Colombo and other urban areas. As well as being widely used as a recreational drug, cannabis is of great significance in the local Ayurvedic traditional pharmacopoeia. Cannabis is typically referred to as kansa (for the growing plant) and ganja (for the flowering tops).
Cannabis in Sri Lankan Ayurvedic Medicine
According to Sensi Seeds: The tradition of Ayurvedic medicine remains strong in Sri Lanka, with an estimated 16,000 practitioners in 2004. Cannabis is widely used in the Sri Lankan tradition, with the specific Sinhalese or Sanskrit names virapati (“hero-leaved”), capta (“light-hearted”), ananda (“bliss”), trilok kamaya (“desired in three worlds”) and harshini (“the rejoicers”) indicating its various properties, such as inducing euphoria and heightening sexual energy. [Source: Sensi Seeds sensiseeds.com
Traditionally, registered Ayurvedic practitioners would obtain cannabis for use in their preparations by applying to the Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation with details of their intended recipes; the Corporation would then supply cannabis in powdered form according to requirements. According to reports, the Corporation obtained its cannabis at no cost, from no other source than the police themselves. Interestingly, it seems that cannabis seized in raids on illicit commercial plantations was given to the Corporation by police if local magistrates dealing with the cultivation cases directed them to do so!
However, it seems that this unusual situation may be entirely phased out in the very near future. Some of the most troubling examples of the clash between traditional medicinal practices and modern attitudes to cannabis use are currently occurring in Sri Lanka over use of a traditional Ayurvedic remedy known locally as madana modaka. Madana modaka is made of cannabis, coriander, and various local herbs. It is still widelyuse in Sri Lanka for its perceived restorative, rejuvenative and aphrodisiac properties.
Crackdowns on Ayurvedic Cannabis in Sri Lanka
According to Sensi Seeds: In recent years, Ayurvedic pharmacies have been subject to police raids; packages of madana modaka have been seized and destroyed, and the vendors arrested and often imprisoned. Perhaps the first instance of this phenomenon being reported was in 2002, when the patient of an Ayurvedic practitioner in Udalawale in southern Sri Lanka was arrested for possession of the substance. When the practitioner himself went to the police station to complain about the arrest, arguing that the medicine was made with ingredients obtained from the Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation, he too was arrested, and apparently also subject to verbal and physical abuse at the hands of Sri Lanka’s notoriously brutal police.
Since then, reports have been relatively frequent. In September 2014, a man was arrested in Chilaw, North Western Province after being found in possession of 1,000 pellets. In November 2013, an Ayurvedic pharmacy in Labugama village, Central District was raided following a tip-off; police discovered 145 pellets of madana modaka weighing 2 kg in total. In July 2012, an unidentified individual was arrested in Embilipitiya, Ratnapura District in possession of 20 pellets of the medicine. A recurring theme with madana modaka (as well as with other controlled substances in Sri Lanka) is the idea that practitioners are ‘targeting children’ with their products. In May 2014, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa instructed police to target individuals suspected of selling illicit drugs such as madana modaka near schools.
Clearly, the battle is far from over. In 2008 it was reported that the Sri Lankan Ministry of Indigenous Medicine had formally requested permission to use of around thirty-five acres of land to cultivate cannabis, for use in a number of important Ayurvedic remedies. At the time of the report, the Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation was still receiving cannabis from the courts; however, this supply was deemed inadequate as it had typically been stored improperly for some time prior to being released from police storage, and was usually markedly reduced in potency and efficacy compared to freshly harvested cannabis. It is not clear what the outcome of this particular case was, but reports have indicated that the government is engaged in growing cannabis for the Ayurvedic market, and the Corporation continues to list madana modaka on its product list.
Cultivated and Wild Cannabis in Sri Lanka
According to Sensi Seeds: Cannabis is widely cultivated in Sri Lanka, with main hubs of activity generally occurring in the drier Eastern, Southern and Uva Provinces. Wild cannabis also thrives throughout much of the country. In 2003, it was estimated that the total area of land under cannabis cultivation was 500 hectares, and it is believed that cultivation is on the increase. The local types found in Sri Lanka generally exhibit the classic South Asian ‘sativa’ look, which is generally now agreed to be a subtype of C. sativa sp. indica by botanists. Sri Lankan cannabis is tall, graceful and many-branched, with widely-spaced internodes and slender, dark green leaves. It supplies a clear, cerebral high with little drowsiness, and is known for its floral, citrus and peppermint flavours and aromas. [Source: Sensi Seeds sensiseeds.com
Hashish is rarely seized by counternarcotics officials, and what little is found is typically Indian, Pakistani or Afghani; It does not appear that hashish is produced locally. This would stand to reason as very few tropical countries with humid climates produce hashish, no doubt due to the fact that excessive moisture can cause disastrous mould problems when curing and storing the product. Almost every country that traditionally produces hashish in commercial quantities is semi-arid to arid, and the hotter and damper of the hash-producing countries tend to make their best grades in mountainous regions, which are generally well ventilated, cooler and drier than lowlands in the same latitude.
In July 2013, the largest cannabis plantation thus far found in Sri Lanka was discovered in Yala National Park, which lies in Uva and Southern Provinces. The plantation was large and remarkably well-equipped, with solar cells, solar-powered irrigation systems and supplementary lighting. Two individuals were arrested in connection with the plantation, and it is believed that up to twenty individuals were employed on a daily basis at the site. Since the mid-1990s, Sri Lankan counter-narcotics officials have routinely carried out eradication efforts, but there is little consistent data on exactly how much is eradicated.
Cannabis Trafficking in Sri Lanka
According to Sensi Seeds: Sri Lanka produces significant quantities of cannabis, and exports its surplus to nearby destination countries such as Australia, as well as destinations as far away as Europe. However, it also imports cannabis and hashish from India and other nearby producer countries. Imported cannabis is not necessarily associated with superior quality, and in some cases may be noticeably inferior and cheaper than the local products; however, it seems that the domestic consumer market is lively enough to warrant maintaining a healthy variety of different products to suit varying tastes and budgets. [Source: Sensi Seeds sensiseeds.com
A major hub for the traffic in illegal narcotics is the Bandaranaike International Airport, which as tourism has increased in recent years has seen a vast increase in overall visitor numbers. The influx has proved rather too large to effectively police, and contraband has been slipping through customs in increasing quantities. The airport sees significant quantities of cocaine entering the country, as well as large amounts of heroin and hashish from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan leaving the country en route to final destinations in Europe and the Americas.
Prior to 2009, the year the civil war with the Tamil Tigers ended, Sri Lanka was relatively free from drug trafficking, although it occurred on a minor scale, often facilitated by corrupt officials or rebel groups in need of funding. In particular, the LTTE has been accused by the US Embassy in Sri Lanka of essentially controlling trafficking operations in the north of the country throughout the years of civil war — although this is questionable, as they went on to predict a drop in trafficking following cessation of fighting, which has been proved entirely incorrect.
Lobby groups and activists in Sri Lanka place the blame for the increase in trafficking on inconsistent policing and an increase in state corruption, as well as the fact that increased tourism has caused the country to become increasingly attractive to traffickers. Heroin and cannabis are the most frequently seized illicit narcotics in Sri Lanka; of the two, heroin is generally seen as a far greater problem, although cannabis does not escape the attention of the authorities.
Cannabis Laws, Arrests and Legalization Efforts in Sri Lanka
According to Sensi Seeds: Sri Lanka has strict penalties for possession, sale and trafficking of illicit narcotics. Possession and trafficking of less than 5 kg of cannabis is considered a minor offence, and is typically punishable by fines or short custodial sentences. Possession, sale and trafficking of larger quantities of cannabis are considered serious offences, and are punishable by fines and longer custodial sentences at the judge’s discretion. [Source: Sensi Seeds sensiseeds.com
In 2004, the death penalty (which had been suspended in 1976) was reinstated for crimes including drug trafficking (although apparently only for cocaine and heroin), rape and murder. However, there have been no executions for any crime since 2004; death sentences are sometimes given out for drug trafficking, but these are automatically commuted to life imprisonment.
Seizures and arrests have steadily increased since 2009, with 19,000 being arrested on drug charges in 2009, 30,000 in 2010, and 42,000 in 2011. In 2012, almost 48,000 individuals were arrested for drug-related offences; of these, 22,700 were arrested for crimes involving cannabis.
The Sri Lankan government’s stance towards cannabis is mostly hostile, the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine and the Department of Ayurveda have long defended the right of the Sri Lankan population to use cannabis in the centuries-old traditional manner. In December 2013, it was announced that the Minister for Indigenous Medicine, Salinda Dissanayake had introduced a bill in Parliament calling for the ban on cannabis to be lifted.
Dissanayake is actually not the first of his ilk to call for legalisation of cannabis — his predecessor Tissa Karaliyadda made similar efforts. Under their proposed framework, traditional Ayurvedic practitioners would be permitted to cultivate small quantities of cannabis solely for medicinal purposes. However, it appears that the bill is not widely supported, and is unlikely to lead to any meaningful change in the near future.
Purchasing and Using Cannabis in Sri Lanka
According to Sensi Seeds: It is generally easy to source cannabis in Sri Lanka, but it is imperative to exercise caution as police are always on the lookout for illegal activity, if for no other reason than to extract bribes. Street dealers may also work in tandem with corrupt police officers, so finding a good connection is advisable. Tourists can expect quality to be mediocre, occasionally good. Seeds, stalks and leaves are usually present in abundance. Longer-term residents may have better luck securing high-quality local supplies, or imports from India. Kerala cannabis is a fairly common high-quality option in Sri Lanka, but local types may be just as impressive with the right connection. [Source: Sensi Seeds sensiseeds.com
Smoking in public is never advisable. The beaches to the south of Colombo are reported to be frequented by local dealers, and police presence there is far lower than in the city itself. However, if in the city, asking in bars and clubs or approaching tuk-tuk drivers are common methods of securing a supply.
Prices for cannabis in Sri Lanka vary according to quality and reliability of source. Tourists can expect to pay more than locals, as a general rule; for a kilogram, the price for a foreigner in 2002-2003 was 2,000 Sri Lankan rupees, and 1,500 Rs for a local. A small bag bought from a tuk-tuk driver costs around 200 – 250 Rs, and around 300 Rs from a club.
Robert Knox and Sri Lankan Cannabis
Robert Knox (1641 – 1720) was an English sea captain who worked for the British East India Company and spent almost two decades in what is now Sri Lanka after being held captive there. Knox wrote about his adventures and stay in Sri Lanka in a book titled 'A Historical Relation of Ceylon' (1681). Knox wrote the manuscript for the book on his way back to England after escaping captivity in which he said he and a fellow escapee were forced to drink “ [p]onds of rain water...so thick and muddy, that the very filth would hang in our Beards...by which means...we used often to be Sick of violent Fevers and Agues". The book was accompanied by engravings showing the inhabitants, their customs and agricultural techniques. It attracted widespread interest at the time and made Knox internationally famous, influencing Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe as well as sparking a friendship with Robert Hooke, the famous natural philosopher and polymath who was curator of experiments at the Royal Society.
Benjamin Breen wrote: Remembering his brush with death, Knox concluded that he would have died were it not for the anti-nausea effects of a certain South Asian antidote —cannabis. “At length we learned an Antidote and Counter-Poyson against the filthy venemous water, which so operated by the blessing of God, that after the use thereof we had no more Sickness", Knox would recall. “It is only a dry leaf: they call it in Portugueze Banga…and this we eat Morning and Evening upon an empty Stomach. It intoxicates the Brain, and makes one giddy”. After Knox reached London safely in September 1680, he retained a taste for this intoxicating “Counter-Poyson” and found a source able to procure it back home. We know this because, on November 7, 1689, Robert Hooke met with Knox at a London coffee house to obtain a sample of what Hooke called the “intoxicating leaf and seed, by the Moors called Ganges, in Portug [uese] Banga, in Chingales Consa”. Hooke added in his diary that the drug was reported to him as being “wholesome, though for a time it takes away the memory and understanding”. [Source: Benjamin Breen,“Theire Soe Admirable Herbe": How the English Found Cannabis, February 20, 2020
Knox became a close friend and collaborator of Robert Hooke, for whom he frequently brought back gifts from his travels. In return, Hooke took Knox to the local coffeehouses for chocolate and tobacco, then considered luxuries.] On one occasion, Knox presented Hooke with samples of "a strange intoxicating herb like hemp" which he dubbed "Indian hemp" or "Bangue"; it is better known today as cannabis indica, a plant which was unknown at the time in Europe.
In December 1689, Hooke gave a lecture to the Royal Society in which he provided the first detailed description of cannabis in English, praising its “very wholesome” virtues, commending its possible curative properties. Breen wrote: Hooke delivered a lecture to the Royal Society, describing his administration of the drug to an unnamed “patient” (perhaps Knox, or even Hooke himself). “The Dose of it is about as much as may fill a common Tobacco-Pipe", Hooke explained, although the route of administration he tested was to grind the leaves and seeds into a fine powder, then chew and swallow them. Before long, Hooke wrote: “the Patient understands not, nor remembereth any Thing that he seeth, heareth or doth, in that Extasie but becomes, as it were, a mere Natural, being unable to speak a Word of Sense; yet is he very merry and laughs and sings and speaks...yet he is not giddy or drunk, but walks and dances and sheweth many odd Tricks. Despite emphasizing this loss of “Understanding” and “Sense", Hooke’s assessment was positive. The drug, he explained, “is so well known and experimented by Thousands, and the Person that brought it has so often experimented with it himself", that “there is no Cause of Fear, ‘tho possibly there may be of Laughter". Hooke concluded by noting that he was currently attempting to grow the seeds in London, and that “if it can be here produced” the plant could “prove as considerable a Medicine in Drugs, as any that is brought from the Indies”.
“Hooke’s excited remarks about cannabis’ effects reflected the high stakes of uncovering the hidden properties of drugs in the seventeenth century. If powers to heal, cause sleep, alleviate pain, or cure melancholy could be explained, then who was to say that they couldn’t also be amplified? Via the efforts of Hooke and his colleagues, the microscope and telescope had expanded the natural limits of human vision. Might it be possible that the technological modification of psychoactive drugs could allow an expansion of other human senses and faculties?
Betel Nut and Sri Lanka
Betel nut, the dried fruit of the areca palm, is very popular in Sri Lanka as it is in some parts of China and in many os South and Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Regarded as a mild narcotic, the fresh areca nut is chewed, sometimes wrapped in betel leaf or with tobacco and often mixed with lime, which helps bring out the active ingredients. . [Source: Dan Levin for The New York Times, August 19, 2010]
In Sri Lanka, betel nut is often consumed after meals. The kind typically consumed is made of betel leaves, areca nut, and certain other items like cloves, nutmeg, cardamons which give a pleasant smell and a pungent taste when chewed. It is said, that applying the white paste of powdered limestone on the areca nut, fresh betel leaf is "like mustard on a hot dog.” Naga Valli is betel leaf with a yellow imprint of a Cobra head
T. B. Parnatella wrote in 1908: “Soon after meals every one must be offered a quid of betel. This is done by placing the betel leaves, chopped arecanuts, chunam, catechu, niyadandu, tobacco, and spices (cloves, &c.), neatly on a kind of tray (of metal or wood. sometimes highly ornamented), which is passed round so that even one may select according to his taste. Three different trays must be got ready: the one for the ladies' chamber should either be handed to, or placed near, the chief lady of the company; the other should be placed near the chief man of the gentlemen s' party; and the third handed over to the head servant for distribution among them. [Source: T. B. Parnatella, “Sumptuary Laws and Social Etiquette of the Kandyans,” The Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, 1908; Lanka Chronicle, Virtual Library Sri Lanka lankalibrary.com ]
People that chew betel nut say its sets the nervous system buzzing and warms the body, especially after a meal. It can also blacken the gums and stain and rot away teeth, an unsightly side effect of the drug. According to traditional Chinese medicine, betel nut aids digestion, removes plaque and expels worms.
Betel nut (also known as pan) comes from the betel palm (Areca catechu ). It has been used for least 2,500 years, Theophratus discussed it. There are references to it in ancient Sanskrit texts. An estimated one tenth of humanity regularly chews it. In many places, everybody chews betel nut, even children. It can be bought at almost any store. Many people grow it in their backyards. Some people even believe that ghosts chew it. Others regard it as magical and offer it gods and use it to ward off the evil eye.
Betel nuts are usually sucked on or chewed like chewing tobacco, but the way they are prepared varies from region to region. They are often prepared by boiling, drying and slicing. In India, Taiwan, the Philippines and Southeast Asia, betel nut is usually dried and cut into small pieces and sold already wrapped in a ready-to-chew pepper leave. In India it is dried and called paan. Paan Masala refers to an aromatic been blend of spices and condiments chewed with betel. On Yap and other Micronesian islands the nut is bit open while still green and then wrapped in a pepper leaf along with some lime made from burnt and pulverized coral or clam shells, and then chewed. Sometimes it is chewed with tobacco or tobacco soaked in vodka.
See Separate Article BETEL NUT: HISTORY, USE, BUZZ, BOTANY, PRODUCTION AND HEALTH factsanddetails.com
Betel Nut and Sri Lanka Culture
Betel chewing is a part of Sri Lankan culture. It is one custom shared by both the Tamils and Sinhalese. It is a good habit keeping the mouth fresh and free from harmful bacteria as the betel is an antiseptic. The areca and the betel also strengthen the gums. Perhaps this cultural trait was shared by the Nagas, for it is said that when they visited our land, they found the green betel leaf rather bland and therefore brought their own variety the Naga Valli. [Source: Virtual Library Sri Lanka lankalibrary.com ]
The Naga Valli betel leaf carries a yellow imprint of the Cobra head, the emblem of the Nagas. The chewers of the Naga Valli are warned to bite off a good bit of the stem and break off the tip of the leaf before they begin chewing. This is due to a confusion of the Naga clan, with the reptile, the Cobra. From this misconception arose the story that the Naga Valli was carried in the mouths of the Cobras. Hence the belief that the Nagas held the leaf by the stem or tip and may have left some venom at these points. If you watch a seasoned betel chewer, you will see him do this even with our green betel leaf. Even today when a sheaf of betel is offered as a token of respect care is taken that no Naga Valli leaves are included in it.
In some wedding ceremonies betels leaves are given by the MC to the groom who in turn passes them on to his parents. It also offered as a dahat-vita offering. For every kind of offering there are separate stanzas like those for food. These stanzas are composed in Pali, which is supposed to be the language in which the Buddha preached his doctrine.
Ceremonies using betel nut are performed after the rains when the wewa (irrigation ponds) is full and during Mutti mungallaya after the harvest. Once a day has been selected for the Mutti mangallaya each household will contribute their share of rice, kawum, plantains, betel and areca nuts for the ceremony. After the feasting is over, villagers go in a procession with two new clay pots filled with saffron and incense to the abode of the deity who is believed to reside in a tree on the wewa bund. A special dais is erected with coconut fronds known as "yahana" under the tree over which a white canopy is hung to give a sanctified look. On this specially erected pedestal, betel offering is made and the two clay pots are also placed as a form of offering. [Source: D. B. Kappagoda, CDN, Mid Week Mirror]
Family and Betel Nut Bonding During the Sri Lanka New Year
After the New Year meal the mother in a family has traditionally shown here respect to her husband by offering him a sheaf of betel leaves. This is followed by children offered betel to their father and mother. Elders in the village have also been offered betel in this way on New Year's day.
Dr. Upali Pilapitiya wrote: Another salient feature of the New Year is to respect the elders and to strengthen relationships with neighbours. Usually, visiting relations and friends and exchanging presents, greeting them with a sheaf of betel is the order of the day. Betel play a vital part in the New Year particularly in Asian culture. Betel is considered a sacred herb with many medicinal values. Chewing of betel along with cloves, cardamoms and arecanut after a meal is considered the best way to strengthen the gums. A chew of betel cleans the mouth, and wades off bad breath. [Source: Dr. Upali Pilapitiya, Virtual Library Sri Lanka lankalibrary.com ]
“The juice of betel leaves promotes digestion, kills organisms which are harmful to the body. The value of betel is also appreciated in Buddhist literature. Building up confidence, love, friendship and hope among elders, relations and friends plays a great role in achieving mental, physical and social wellbeing. Arrogance, hatred, sorrow, pangs of jealousy, cruelty are all considered as mental illnesses. Exchanging sheaves of betel and paying respect to elders brings about a new feeling of freshness. The elders feel that they are accepted, wanted and venerated by their kith and kin. This warmth helps to a great deal to the elders in maintaining good health and vitality.”
Smoking in Sri Lanka
Adults who smoke: 13.9 percent. Ranking in the world: 80th out of 85 countries [Source: World Health Organization 2015 ranking Wikipedia ]
Adult men who smoke: 30.2 percent [Source: WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic (2008) Wikipedia ]
Adult women who smoke: 2.6 percent [Source: WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic (2008) Wikipedia ]
Lung cancer rate (age-standardized rate per 100,000 people): men: 9.02; women: 2.93; men and women: 5.64 (men: 77.4; women: 41.4; men and women: 56.7 in Hungary and men: ; women: 30.8; men and women: 35.1 in the United States [Source: World Cancer Research Fund wcrf.org World Life Expectancy worldlifeexpectancy.com ]
Cigarette Consumption per Capita: 254.6 (compared to 6330 in Luxembourg and 89.3 in India). Here, Sri Lanka ranked 142nd out of 181 countries. [Source: Wikipedia ]
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Sri Lanka Tourism (srilanka.travel), Government of Sri Lanka (www.gov.lk), The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.
Last updated February 2022