Recently elected Bihar government banning its sale and consumption to fulfil a key electoral promise.
- Prohibition of alcohol
Consequences of alcohol consumption
- Household impoverishment
- Domestic violence
- Premature mortality
Is prohibition of alcohol a sound move?
Prohibition is a very poor policy to address the consequences of alcohol abuse. No evidence.It has major negative implications :
- Massive loss to the exchequer.
- Criminalization of a majority of people who drink sensibly.
- Criminalization of a large section of society right from the manufactures (will resort to illegal manufacturing), dealers (would resort to smuggling) and the consumers (would be forced to buy illegally).
- This has a potential to result into a big nexus of smugglers, police ,politic. and bootleggers.
Prohibition of alcohol surprisingly has a serious ramification even on public health as poor people would resort to illegally brewed alcohol which is often poisonous and frequently results in deaths.
Prohibition in its true sense is rejected by most public health scientists who know this field, even the World Health Organisation does not recommend it.
There is lack of public health approach in India:
- Government has permitted the shameless substitute advertising of alcohol by corporations, for example, through selling “bottled water” under the same brand names as their much better known alcoholic beverages.
- Airline named after the most popular alcoholic beverage (Kingfisher)
What to do then if not prohibition?
India must not follow these archaic models of de-addiction. There are many other steps that could be taken:
- Effective counselling interventions for those who wish to control their drinking.
- Keeping a strong check on the proliferation of bootlegging and illegal manufacturing units.
- Spreading awareness right from the schools and colleges about the problem of alcohol abuse
Though prohibition may appear to be a one stop solution to the problem of alcohol abuse
In fact there is no evidence to show that prohibition has ever had its intended impact.
Yes it will reduce alcohol consumption but it can do very little for domestic violence and premature mortality. It might pose more serious problems than it would tackle.