Tuesday October 22, 2019
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‘Prohibition is no solution to alcohol abuse’

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New Delhi: Swarna Bharat Party (SBP) denounces prohibition or excessive restrictions on the sale of alcohol by some States. Some of these States treat rich Indians and foreigners differently, with alcohol allowed to be served in five star hotels. Such arbitrary policies imply that some Indian citizens are less responsible than others, that such Indians are fit to vote, but unfit to make responsible decisions on the question of alcohol. This two-tier approach harks back to India’s colonial era. It also begs the question why alcohol is allowed to be manufactured in India in the first place.

In a press note issued by the SBP President, Mr. Vishal Singh noted that “Prohibition has been a disaster wherever it has been attempted. The evidence is overwhelming – from across India and the world – that prohibition is never realized in practice. Instead, illicit liquor and crime receives a fillip, including smuggling from nearby non-prohibition States. This causes governments to lose essential tax revenues, even as taxpayers pay more to deal with the consequences of increased crime and corruption.”

Moreover, Mr. Singh pointed out that such restrictions are a direct attack on the promise of liberty assured by the Preamble to India’s Constitution. No doubt, the Directive principles enjoin the State to impose prohibition on the ground that “intoxicating drinks… are injurious to health”. However, SBP believes that the merits and demerits of alcohol need to be constantly reviewed in the light of new scientific evidence. A Constitution is not the place to make public policy.

Even if alcohol were proven to be injurious to health, a government would not necessarily have a role. A government’s role must be limited to addressing any harm that people cause others, for example, driving when intoxicated or domestic violence, not harm they may choose to cause themselves.

Chanakya’s Arthashastra details how alcohol can be regulated. But India’s own history and that of other free countries can also provide useful insights. One way is to tax liquor, keeping in mind that if desi liquor is taxed heavily, the poor may switch to illicit, often toxic, liquor. Breath tests of drivers should be regularly undertaken, with revenues generated from fines defraying the cost of these tests. Those who harm others should be made to pay; not those who use alcohol responsibly.

Mr. Singh noted that excessive consumption of alcohol by someone in the privacy of their home can sometimes become a social issue. Social organizations should provide scientific information to the community on the harms of excessive drinking. SBP will also disseminate such information through its social outreach efforts.

Mr. Singh re-iterated that “A government’s job is to defend the liberty of every citizen, while addressing the harm caused by any irresponsible exercise of liberty. SBP’s manifesto outlines mature and well thought-out regulatory approach on all aspects of public policy. The recent alcohol ban in Kerala, the proposed ban in Bihar, and existing bans or significant restrictions in Gujarat, Maharashtra and other parts of India should be immediately reviewed.”

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Study reveals, Frequent Drinking Can Be More Harmful Than Binges

For the study, published in the journal EP Europace, researchers examined the relative importance of frequent drinking versus binge drinking for new-onset atrial fibrillation

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Researchers examined the relative importance of Frequent Drinking versus Binge Drinking for new-onset atrial fibrillation. Pixabay

Alcohol lovers, take a note. Drinking small amounts of alcohol frequently is linked with a higher likelihood of atrial fibrillation than binge drinking, says a new study.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder and raises the risk of stroke by five-fold. Symptoms include palpitations, racing or irregular pulse, shortness of breath, tiredness, chest pain and dizziness.

“Our study suggests that drinking less often may also be important to protect against atrial fibrillation,” said study author Jong-Il Choi, from Korea University College in South Korea.

For the study, published in the journal EP Europace, researchers examined the relative importance of frequent drinking versus binge drinking for new-onset atrial fibrillation.

The analysis included 9,776,956 individuals without atrial fibrillation who underwent a national health check-up in 2009 which included a questionnaire about alcohol consumption.

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The number of Frequent Drinking sessions is related to atrial fibrillation onset regardless of age and sex. Pixabay

Participants were followed-up until 2017 for the occurrence of atrial fibrillation.

The number of drinking sessions per week was the strongest risk factor for new-onset atrial fibrillation.

Compared with drinking twice per week (reference group), drinking every day was the riskiest, with a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.412, while drinking once a week was the least risky (HR 0.933).

Binge drinking did not show any clear link with new-onset atrial fibrillation.

“Our study suggests that frequent drinking is more dangerous than infrequent binge drinking with regard to atrial fibrillation,” Choi said.

The number of drinking sessions was related to atrial fibrillation onset regardless of age and sex.

Repeated episodes of atrial fibrillation triggered by alcohol may lead to overt disease, the research notes.

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Drinking small amounts of alcohol frequently is linked with a higher likelihood of atrial fibrillation than binge drinking. Pixabay

In addition, drinking can provoke sleep disturbance which is a known risk factor for atrial fibrillation.

There was a two per cent increase in the risk of new-onset atrial fibrillation for each gram of alcohol consumed per week.

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Compared to mild drinkers, those who drank no alcohol, moderate, or high amounts had 8.6 per cent, 7.7 per cent, and 21.5 per cent elevated risks, respectively, the study said. (IANS)