The National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol act takes effect December 1st, so El Paraiso will effectively be the last sponsored party. It’s another Offshore, this time on an actual beach (Mount Lavinia Private Beach). As I’ve mentioned multiple times, Offshore parties are good cause the music doesn’t suck. This party is also notable because, after the NATA bill comes into effect, sponsored parties like this won’t be possible (or at least more difficult). This in particular is sponsored by Smirnoff, which will have to take its budget elsewhere. Regardless, Offshore nights are pretty much always good, and the beach setting is a nice escape from the constricts of a typical club. It’s this Saturday, the 25th. After that, get thee to a nunnery.
The music should be mostly house/techno and there’ll be food and booze available for purchase there. I think there’ll be outdoor gazebos to give each group a bit of private space. I’ve been to the Mount Beach before and it’s nice and the security is good. However, the party interests me more cause it’s the last one of its kind. Here are the relevant portions of the NATA bill. Interestingly, you can find most bills online. The first part of the bill was devoted to the creation of a new government department which a bunch of cushy employees and more people to bribe. Here are the advertising sections.
36. (1) A person shall not publish or cause to be published, or authorize the publication of, a tobacco advertisement or an alcohol advertisement.
â€œalcohol advertisementâ€ means any distinctive writing, still or moving picture, sign, symbol or colours or other visual image or any audible message or any combination of the aforesaid that promotes or is intended to promoteâ€”
(a) the drinking of liquor ;
(b) the purchase or use of an alcohol product ;
(c) a trade mark registered in respect of any alcohol product or articles that include alcohol products ;
(d) a brand name associated with an alcohol products ;
(e) the name of the manufacturer of an alcohol products.
37. (1) A person shall not use a brand name or trade mark of, or any symbol associated with, a tobacco product or alcohol product or the name of a manufacturer of a tobacco product or alcohol product in association, whether directly or indirectly, with such tobacco product or alcohol productâ€”
(a) in connection with the promotion of any educational, cultural, social or sporting organization, activity or event ;
(b) in such a manner as indicates, or acknowledges, that any financial or other assistance has been given by, or on behalf of, the manufacturer, importer or distributor of such tobacco product or alcohol product towards such organization, activity or event.
(2) Any person who contravenes the provisions of subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence under this Act and shall on conviction after summary trial before a Magistrate be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand rupees or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both such fine and imprisonment.
Tobacco regulations I’m not that opposed to cause they directly kill hundreds of thousands of people a year, and they make public areas noxious for everyone else. Alcohol, however, actually has benefits, most of them social.
Alcohol drinkers earn 10 percent to 14 percent more than nondrinkers, according to a study. Authors’ theories: 1) Drinking helps you “socialize more with clients and co-workers, giving drinkers an advantage in important relationships.” 2) Drinking “may also provide individuals with opportunities to learn people, business, and social skills.” Authors’ conclusions: 1) “By preventing people from drinking in public, anti-alcohol policies eliminate one of the most important aspects of drinking: increased social capital.” 2) “Not only do anti-alcohol policies reduce drinkers’ fun, but they may also decrease earnings.” 3) Maybe we should stop trying to reduce drinking at colleges. Rebuttals: 1) You don’t have to drink to socialize. 2) It’s more likely that sociability causes both drinking and social capital than that drinking causes social capital. 3) This “study” is right-wing-funded spin masquerading as impartial research (Slate)
It also has significant costs, and most people are not responsible with alcohol (myself included). However, to really tackle the ills of alcohol, we need to tackle illicit Kasippu consumption which accounts for over 50% of Sri Lanka’s alcohol consumption (Sunday Times). Also, Dr. Ranil Abeysinghe’s research on male suicide found that kasippu was implicated in 60% of them, not to mention domestic violence, and the illegal trade in kasippu. As he explains in his interesting research book ‘Illicit Alcohol’,
[T]he topic of alcohol in our society cannot generate any form of reasoned discussion. The middle class Sri Lankan society in particular evinces attitudes of ambivalence and bigotry towards alcohol. This is particularly evident in such ideas as the fact that any drinking is bad within the class and any form of excessive and uncontrolled drinking such as of illicit liquor (popularly known as Kassipu) is acceptable among the poor. Opinion leaders in social groups, therefore, are responsible for opposing the opening of legal alcohol outlets in the community while hypocritically turning a blind eye to open Kasippu sales behind a school or a temple. The logical conclusion here would be that because ‘only the poor would drink Kasippu’, they are not concerned about its social consequences, whereas legal outlets are seen as a threat to their own class.
According to the same book, nearly 110 vehicles transport Kasippu into the city from North Western coastal areas. They are passing through checkpoints unchecked and often with tacit support. I’ve personally seen plastic bags full of liquid being unloaded from a cop car at 3 in the morning, Rajagiriya. However, politicians take the cynically position of restricting legal and regulated alcohol sales while turning a blind eye and open pocket to illicit alcohol.
This law ignores the real problems of alcohol in Sri Lanka and instead makes a sacrificial lamb of the tourism and entertainment industries, all while sacrificing huge tax revenues that could go towards developing the country. In a county with legal alcohol consumption I’d think that an advertising ban is ineffective and pointless, but in a country with mostly illegal consumption it is pure posturing.
Regardless, this Offshore party (El Paraiso) should be good as usual. Hopefully they can continue to fund it without alcohol sponsors, I think they could. However, for this weekend at least you can retreat from the cynical swamp of government morality to the beach.