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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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Alcohol Consumption Increased 38% in India: Lancet Study

The study measured per capita alcohol consumption using data for 189 countries between 1990-2017 from the WHO and the Global Burden of Disease study

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A photo made with a fisheye lens shows bottles of alcohol in a liquor store in Salt Lake City. The National Institutes of Health said Friday that it was canceling a study of moderate drinking's health benefits because the results could not be trusted. Beer and liquor companies were helping to underwrite it.
This June 16, 2016, file photo, taken with a fisheye lens, shows bottles of alcohol during a tour of a state liquor store, in Salt Lake City. Cheap liquor, wine and beer have long been best-sellers among Utah alcohol drinkers, but new numbers from Utah's tightly-controlled liquor system show local craft brews, trendy box wines and flavored whiskies are also popular choices in a largely teetotaler state. VOA

Alcohol consumption in India increased from 4.3 litres a year per adult to 5.9 litres in 2017, a growth of 38 per cent, says a study of 189 countries’ alcohol intake.

Driven by the rise in alcohol intake in India, China and Vietnam, global alcohol consumption increased from 5.9 litres a year per adult in 1990, to 6.5 litres in 2017, and is predicted to increase further to 7.6 litres by 2030, showed the results published in The Lancet.

As a result of increased alcohol consumption and population growth, the total volume of alcohol consumed globally per year has increased by 70 per cent — from 20,999 million litres in 1990 to 35,676 million litres in 2017.

While intake is growing in low and middle-income countries, the total volume of alcohol consumed in high-income countries has remained stable, the study said.

The estimates suggest that by 2030 half of all adults will drink alcohol, and almost a quarter (23 per cent) will binge drink at least once a month.

“Our study provides a comprehensive overview of the changing landscape in global alcohol exposure. Before 1990, most alcohol was consumed in high-income countries, with the highest use levels recorded in Europe,” said study author Jakob Manthey from Technische Universitat Dresden in Germany.

Alcohol, drink
Middle-aged adults must have ‘drink-free’ days for healthy body. Pixabay

“However, this pattern has changed substantially, with large reductions across Eastern Europe and vast increases in several middle-income countries such as China, India and Vietnam,” Manthey added.

“This trend is forecast to continue up to 2030 when Europe is no longer predicted to have the highest level of alcohol use,” he added.

Increasing rates of alcohol use suggest that the world is not on track to achieve targets against harmful alcohol use.

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“Based on our data, the WHO’s aim of reducing the harmful use of alcohol by 10 per cent by 2025 will not be reached globally,” Manthey said.

“Instead, alcohol use will remain one of the leading risk factors for the burden of disease for the foreseeable future, and its impact will probably increase relative to other risk factors,” he warned, adding that implementation of effective alcohol policies is warranted, especially in rapidly developing countries with growing rates of alcohol use.

The study measured per capita alcohol consumption using data for 189 countries between 1990-2017 from the WHO and the Global Burden of Disease study. (IANS)