It was very nice to meet my friend Tien (Vice Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee of the National Assembly Vietnam) last week, in Sri Lanka, after we met in the Global Alcohol Policy Conference (GAPC), where we from IOGT International were Co-Sponsors in Bangkok in February this year.
The government delegation of Viet Nam came to Sri Lanka for studying and sharing alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention activities, specially the policy implementation. With the tight schedule of the team Tien was able to drop by at Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC) for a few hours in the final day afternoon. Had an informal chat with ADIC management enjoying a Sri Lankan tea Tien said that “it is unique in the Sri Lankan policy on alcohol and tobacco as both included in the same Act. (NATIONAL AUTHORITY ON TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL ACT, No. 27 OF 2006)” and he further said that he never knew any country that had alcohol and tobacco both covered by one Act.
To me it is always interesting to find the alcohol industry influences to Viet Nam as the International Centre for Alcohol Policies (ICAP) was able to have a workshop with the Viet Nam government in 2009. Tien shared his experience from his participation in the workshop as the only one who was aware at the time that ICAP is the arm of the alcohol industry to manipulate policies in the world, promoting ineffective and costly measures that serve the profit interests of the global alcohol industry instead of the public health and development of societies. He didn’t forget to thank Esbjorn for informing him about ICAP and making him aware of the issue and conflict of interests.
It was bit shocking for the ADIC management when Tien explained that there are only two or three civil society organizations existing for alcohol prevention in Viet Nam as we have many in Sri Lanka. I felt that as ADIC we can offer technical support to Viet Nam for developing more civil society involvement and advocacy work. Tien also was happy about it and we will keep in touch to work out a mechanism for it.