The University of Colombo works systematically on tobacco control and was established as a tobacco observatory Sri Lanka in 2016. Recently, this observatory was expanded to the South Asia region to create the South Asian Regional Consortium Centre for Combating Tobacco (SARC-CCT).
The centre organized an inaugural workshop, inviting researchers and advocates for the launch of the SARC-CCT on 15-18th July 2019, in Colombo. On invitation, the Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru (IPH) was represented & actively participated in the workshop.
Dr. Upendra Bhojani, representing IPH, also had the opportunity to serve as a panelist. Along with his panel members, Dr. Pranay Lal, Senior Technical Advisor, The Union, Delhi and Dr. Mary Assunta, Head of Global Research and Advocacy, Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, Thailand, Upendra contributed to a blog post that summarize common tobacco control challenges. The blog post is linked here.
The South Asian region has some shared history and common challenges of tobacco control and also offers some unique positive examples (Bhutan, Sri Lanka and India among others) to the world. This event was a key gathering of experts, which highlighted the unique insights that SAARC nations can offer in terms of tobacco control and the importance of close collaboration with other countries in the region.