- Time for open dialogue to tackle alcohol issue surpassing national borders
President Maithripala Sirisena emphasised the imperative need to tackle the issue of indirect and insidious advertising of alcohol and alcohol products, through cross-border social media and entertainment channels’ digital marketing. Governments find it extremely difficult to control these.
In his speech to the ‘Alcohol, NCDs and Sustainable Development’ forum at the United Nations on 28 September, President Sirisena said, “It is time for us to have an open dialogue to tackle alcohol issues surpassing national borders.” While President Sirisena was the Chief Guest at the forum, organised by the World Health Organisation on the sidelines of the 73rd Session of the UNGA, his key speech was read by Western Development and Megapolis Development Minister Champika Ranawaka.
The President stated that Sri Lanka would give unstinted backing to advocating a legally binding international treaty for alcohol control.
In his speech, President Sirisena outlined the steps taken by Sri Lanka to gradually control alcohol consumption in the country. “The Government considers alcohol use as a major health issue, and a serious impediment to development. It also has been a major hindrance to our efforts to address poverty.”
The President, in his address, said that the alcohol control act in Sri Lanka prohibits all direct and indirect advertising, and in 2015 the nation had also included a separate section on preventing interference by the alcohol industry.
After delivering the President’s address, Minister Ranawaka invited the participants at the Forum to attend the International Conference on Alcohol & Tobacco issues, scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka next year.
The next speaker, the Estonian Director General of Health Services, thanked President Sirisena for highlighting the most important and relevant issues regarding the issues of alcohol and tobacco.