‘Political parties should reveal alcohol policy’

April 29th, 2008 - 10:36 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Anbumani Ramadoss

New Delhi, April 29 (IANS) After advising West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya to quit smoking last month, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss Tuesday asked all political parties to come clean with their policy on alcohol consumption. “The British came to India and gave us alcohol and drugs to feel happy. Many political parties are doing the same,” Ramadoss said here.

“You (media) must go and ask every political party to explain their view on alcohol. Highlight individual party policy on alcohol,” he said on the sideline of a programme on alcohol.

The minister said the Indian constitution asks for banning alcohol consumption except for medical purposes but almost all states do not have an alcohol policy.

“Barring four states - Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur and Mizoram, no other state has a policy on alcohol,” he said, adding that the state governments are promoting alcohol for earning revenue.

“They forget that the revenue generated from the industry is less than the revenue loss due to health problems,” he said.

India produces nearly four million tonnes of alcohol every year, accounting for a whopping 65 percent of the total production in south and southeast Asia. The country imports seven percent of alcohol coming to the region.

He said a fresh study has found that the average age of alcohol consumption has gone down from 28 years to 19 years.

“India is home to nearly 600 million young people below the age of 30 and if they consume alcohol then you can imagine the problem that the country will face,” said Ramadoss.

While releasing the Alcohol Atlas of India, the minister said he would request the World Health Organisation (WHO) to make October 2, birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, as World Anti-Alcohol Day.

According to the alcohol atlas prepared by the India Alcohol Policy Alliance (IAPA), the prevalence of alcohol use among men is highest in Arunachal Pradesh and lowest in Jammu and Kashmir. While 61.1 percent of men in Arunachal take alcohol, only 12.5 percent men in Jammu and Kashmir drink alcohol.

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