A bill banning advertising of alcohol in Sri Lanka has been adopted by the country's cabinet, following debates lasting nearly two years between health and drinks industry campaigners.

The bill will now have to be submitted to the country's parliament. The move had been recommended by a Presidential Task Force on Tobacco, Alcohol and Illicit Drugs, which was set up to coordinate a national policy aimed at cutting alcohol and tobacco consumption, particularly amongst young people.

The Columbo government accepted the recommendations and wanted to enforce a ban in January l999 after steering the necessary legislation through Sri Lanka's parliament.

However, industry protests have stalled the process.

SWINEETHA DIAS WICKRAMANAYAKE