ADIC Sri Lanka: Election Campaign Mobilizes Candidates and Citizens

Heart-driven Movendi International members at the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC), Sri Lanka are campaigning for effective alcohol, tobacco and other drug control policies, targeting the upcoming General Elections in April 2020.

The campaign covers two key aspects:

  • Lobbying General Election candidates to obtain their commitment to support effective alcohol, tobacco and other drug control policies, when they get elected to Parliament, and
  • Advocating to the public to vote for candidates who support effective alcohol, tobacco and other drug control policies in the upcoming elections.

Notable support for ADIC’s campaign

ADIC volunteers are reaching out to candidates in the parliamentary election all over the island and the campaign has already seen significant successes. For example, former President Hon. Mr. Maithripala Sirisena has endorsed ADIC’s election platform and committed to action on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs should he be elected to parliament. Hon. Minister Chamal Rajapaksha also signed the agreement and so have more than 20 parliamentary candidates.

The grass-roots campaign is mobilizing citizens to engage in democracy and exercise their voting right as volunteers reach out to candidates to discuss issues that matter to them, their families and communities.

Obstacle to development

Alcohol and tobacco is a massive burden for Sri Lanka due to the health, social and economic cost of these substances.

A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that direct and indirect costs of alcohol and tobacco in Sri Lanka in 2015 are LKR 209.03 billion (US$ 1,548.37 million). The report warns this is likely an underestimation due to lack of data available to measure certain costs.

The investment case for tobacco control in Sri Lanka by the United Nations Development Fund has found the cost of tobacco alone to be LKR 214 billion, which is 1.6% of the country’s GDP in 2016.

Key facts on the campaign

Sri Lanka has implemented the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) Act to control for both these substances. There are certain amendments to this law that are still awaiting approval.

The campaign by ADIC aims to empower future Members of Parliament to approve and enforce the amendments to the NATA Act as well as implement other effective alcohol, tobacco and other drug control policies. Several key policy asks of the campaign include:

  • Comprehensive tax mechanism, adjusting to inflation rate and per capita income, for both alcohol and tobacco,
  • Minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol,
  • Displaying health warning labels on alcohol bottles and packaging,
  • Ban on single-stick cigarette sale,
  • Implement plain-packaging for tobacco products, and
  • Ban the sale of tobacco within 100 metres of educational institutions.

Currently all other substances are illegal within Sri Lanka. Despite this the pro-cannabis-legalization trend in the world has seeped into the country. While cannabis use as well as other drug use, such as heroin, is low in Sri Lanka, ADIC requests support from future candidates to further reduce harm from these drugs, strengthen effective addiction services and ensure the country does not fall into the cannabis legalization trap.

The campaign also aims to make the public aware of the current economic and taxation issues with the existing alcohol and tobacco control law and the cost of these substances on the Sri Lankan people.

ADIC calls for fellow citizens to vote for candidates, who will support the evidence-based policy recommendations by NATA and global experts in reducing alcohol, tobacco and other drug harm in the country.  

Keep track of ADIC’s advocacy efforts through their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Source Website: Facebook ADIC Sri Lanka