House to house visits were made in order to raise awareness on NATA provisions. Materials such as posters and leaflets were designed especially for the campaigns and such materials were distributed during the house to house campaign. Materials were displayed in public places such as the Samurdhi office, bus station, hospital, Public health network etc.
NATA implementation officers (PHI, police, Excise) were also involved in awareness training to enhance the enforcement of the law. Local Police stations and other enforcement agencies were requested to work closely with our CSO members to gather information on incidence on violations of the NATA act at village level.
During the process the community, once properly mobilized to do so, identified the potential of the shop owner in becoming a community education center. In some places the shop owners were motivated by the community (the shop owner is a vital member of the community) to become proactively involved in preventing smoking and in improving knowledge on tobacco control regulations.
Apart from that, the village shops have a hanging folder next to the counter displaying all leaflets and materials printed by Healthy Lanka, for community to use freely. This is a great opportunity for the community to receive information and an efficient means of disseminating information among community.
A research was conducted on the prevalence of sales of alcohol and cigarettes to minors and the results were tabulated and compiled in to a report which was presented to the Hon. Minister of Health, Mr. Maithripala Sirisena at a meeting organized jointly by Healthy Lanka and its sister organization, the Foundation for Innovative Social Development (FISD). Several government officers including Ministers of Education, Health, and Poverty Alleviation, as well as the Chairpersons of the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, and NATA the presidential task force on tobacco and alcohol prevention attended the meeting. The community was represented by nearly 150 people from each of the communities in which Healthy Lanka is operating. The event was organized to show the strength of the community and the support of the organizations working in the field of tobacco and alcohol prevention in implementing NATA act, the lack of efficiency in implementing the provision on sales to minors and the decision made by the Minister of Health to implement the pictorial warning on the packets of cigarettes.
Special occasions such as parties, weddings etc, which are generally considered among communities as occasions on which alcohol is consumed, are now being used for alcohol prevention education. Education was given to all CSO members about the harm created within a party setting with alcohol use referring to the false education received by children in village alcohol settings such as parties and weddings. Further, parties were introduced as a key occasion on which children and CSO members including women, children, users, and adult men and youth were made aware of how to use the alcohol occasion as an opportunity for education on alcohol prevention.
Another approach was highlighting ‘social injustice ‘ imposed by alcohol users upon others such as including children, women, men, non users within families and communities etc. A campaign was designed and implemented under the theme ‘Against the Alcohol Injustice ‘This theme was expanded and modified into many forms and used in posters and leaflets and used in campaigns.
As a result of the training programmes conducted for the Government sector, public officers have decided to implement a prevention initiative of a different nature. In Sri Lanka the purchase of alcohol is controlled to a maximum number of 2 bottles per person and any purchases above this abut, such as for a in a special occasion, required a permit issued by the divisional secretariat. These government officers involved in issuance of permits in some areas have decided to use the opportunity to educate community and have requested from Healthy Lanka to develop a material for that. Healthy Lanka is now in the process of developing a material that will help the community understand how the parties at which alcohol is served create an educational setting for children to learn and gain a more accurate understanding on alcohol induced behaviors.
Healthy Lanka’s Facebook page was created to utilize popular social media to deglamourize alcohol and also to facilitate the information flow among the interested groups and individuals.
38 NGOs were contacted and materials were supplied in order to disseminate information among FONGODA members on media literacy. This helped us in building network among members to create general consensus among members on media literacy.
Local CBO level training on scientific evidence based approach at divisional level
We have already begun mobilizing and educating the local government members with the intention of reserving funds from their allocation for the prevention of alcohol and tobacco within the division. It is also an effective method of creating better local policies that have a positive impact within communities by reducing alcohol and tobacco consumption and related problems. This method is also effective in increasing community support.
We have began advocacy with politicians especially to sustain the decision made by the government to include pictorial warnings of 80% of the packets of cigarettes as the industry is making enormous effort to reverse the decision or to delay implementation. We have implemented a poster campaign in support of the decision.
We have received an excellent opportunity to mobilize community support in favor of the implementation of the pictorial warnings. Community mobilization would not only enable us to show the strength of the force behind alcohol and tobacco prevention, it would enable us to mobilize them in support of the decision as well. This opportunity would also enable the creation of a movement towards prevention that is to an extent, politically motivated with the aim of ensuring that the people would become well informed as voters.