Sri Lankan students carry a giant dummy of a cigarette as they stage a street drama on the eve of Anti-Tobacco Day in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, May 30, 2007.
In the background is the Colombo Town Hall building. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
This reminded me of my time when I campaigned against drugs and alcohol. As a group formed by ADIC (Alcohol and Drug Information Center) we did many campaigns in Colombo as well as in regional locations. The name of our group was 'Organisation of Youth Against Drugs and Alcohol' (OYADA) and I was the Vice President. It really gave me a unique experience and also a high self-satisfaction for doing a service to the community. Directly talking to people on alcohol related issues and educational campaigns were experiences for a life time. One of the best events was when we did an educational campaign on a long distance train. We walked through each compartment giving speeches and acting out dramas to educate people on the bad side of alcohol.
A giant Tobacco Company used to sponsor a popular Sri Lankan arts exhibition every year. It was just like having cigarette and arrack ads in sports grounds, trying to give a feeling that drugs go with arts without a problem. Many school children took part in this exhibition, so they tried to impose ideas into their heads by presenting themselves as helpers of art. We staged a campaign against this right there at the exhibition! (It was in either end 1999 or early 2000) We covered the whole fence of the exhibition centre (Kala Bavana) with posters expressing our displeasure of drug dealers being involved in art. We filled their comments books with our ideas! It was hilarious.
The following is a photo taken at a campaign at Galle (A town in Southern Sri Lanka). A voyage ship traveled all around the world promoting a popular cigar brand and it was scheduled to come to Colombo port, but due to high opposition from pressure groups, they changed the destination to Galle port. We didn’t want to confront with them, so we went a week ahead of them and tried to educate people, especially school children. The photo was taken when we addressed people at the central bus stand (was later completely washed-off by the 2004 tsunami) and it was well received.