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Target Lowering Age to 21 for Liquor 18 for Wine

Posted: Friday, 25 September 2015 18:41

 

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Blog: Target Lowering Age to 21 for Liquor 18 for Wine

Sep 25: The statement by the AAP Tourism Minister supporting the age old demand of reducing the legal drinking age from 25 years to 21 years, at a recent meet of restaurant owners in Delhi, may have been his personal opinion, but made on a public platform it shows the progressiveness of his party. I feel that the age should be reduced to 21 years for liquor and 18 years for wine and beer for various reasons although it may be politically pragmatic to reduce it in two steps

Click For Large ViewDescribing the current policy on the age of drinking as impractical,  Kapil Mishra said that the unrealistic law had resulted  in the harassment of both consumers and restaurant and bar owners. Significantly, he said "When I looked at the list of states, I found Delhi as one of the few who have stuck to 25 years,  many BJP-ruled states too have adopted 21 years as the drinking age," perhaps to avoid a strong of criticism on the matter from opponents. According to the Indian Constitution States are independent to form their own alcohol related policies.

Mishra told TOI that if National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) makes the demand as part of a report on recommendations sought by them, then the tourism department will take up the matter with the government even though he was speaking from purely a personal view point at this point.

"I am against any law that is not in tune with reality. We have received complaints that restaurant owners are harassed by police due to this impractical rule of 25 years. Besides, consumers also feel under threat and still people younger than 25 continue to drink," he reportedly said while stressing that he was a teetotaller and had no interest in promoting the alcohol culture.

The excise department is also in the midst of easing norms for restaurants and the license regime. A report is shortly expected on the matter, sources said. The measure is part of the Kejriwal government's decision to create a business environment that makes "ease of doing business" a reality, says the report in TOI.

Echoing the long-standing demand to bring down the age of drinking, tourism minister Kapil Mishra on Wednesday came out in support of reducing it from 25 years to 21. Mishra said this while addressing a meet of restaurant owners in the capital.

Describing the current policy on the age of drinking as "impractical" and unrealistic", Mishra said this was resulting in harassment of both consumers and owners of restaurants and bars. "When I looked at the list of states, I found Delhi as one of the few who have stuck to 25 years. Many BJP-ruled states too have adopted 21 years as the drinking age," the minister claimed making a political point to set-up a counter attack to any possibility of criticism on the matter from opponentsEchoing the long-standing demand to bring down the age of drinking, tourism minister Kapil Mishra on Wednesday came out in support of reducing it from 25 years to 21. Mishra said this while addressing a meet of restaurant owners in the capital.

Describing the current policy on the age of drinking as "impractical" and unrealistic", Mishra said this was resulting in harassment of both consumers and owners of restaurants and bars. "When I looked at the list of states, I found Delhi as one of the few who have stuck to 25 years. Many BJP-ruled states too have adopted 21 years as the drinking age," the minister claimed making a political point to set-up a counter attack to any possibility of criticism on the matter from opponents http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

This is not the first time the Delhi Government has expressed the desire to reduce the drinking age (although this needs to be clarified that the minister was speaking in his personal capacity and not as a Delhi government official). But the fact that it was spoken on a public platform by a minister, does indicate that the party favours rationalisation of archaic and unrealistic laws.

A Delhi government spokesperson had reportedly confirmed earlier in May this year that the proposal to reduce age from 25 years to 21 years for wine and beer was being examined but the final decision was not taken by the government and the excise policy did not take this into account. A similar proposal had gone to the previous Sheila Dikshit government too but was rejected after it came in for sharp criticism from the opposition and even her cabinet.

“Forget about the rest of the world, within our country there are different age limits. While in Goa it is 18, in Delhi we have imposed 25 as the drinking age. In most countries, it is 18. By lowering the age, we are not trying to encourage drinking at all. But it will ensure a check on illegal drinking that takes place today,” a senior Delhi government official had reportedly said then, requesting anonymity. According to some surveys, the age at which the youth start drinking alcohol has been alarmingly going down in India, and is currently less than15.

In 2006 the Delhi Government had proposed to bring the legal drinking age down from 25 to 21 and allow women to serve alcoholic beverages. But it had ignored certain key provisions of the Central Government's Model Excise Act, which was circulated by the Ministry of Food Processing earlier. The Model Act recommended that the legal drinking age be brought down to 18. But the then Delhi Government felt that it would lead to a public outcry and the idea never took a shape.

Keep it 21 for Liquor and 18 for Wine and Beer

I strongly believe that the drinking age should be lowered to 21 years for spirits and 18 years for wine and beer. This could be done in a single stroke of the pen or in two stages to make it more palatable to the hard- core abstainers (like I used to be before I started drinking wine because of its numerous benefits, besides being a life-style beverage with low alcohol).  

The two part reduction that I recommend has two positive benefits. It would officially separate wine and beer from spirits. Weighing them on the same scale of destructive capabilities of alcohol, it would gently force the young to start wine drinking at the age of 18. The new law (initially educing the age for wine and beer to 21 and then to 18) would expose the young to wine and beer in the formative years of drinking alcohol. By the time they are allowed to drink liquor, they would have hopefully appreciated the importance of drinking lower alcoholic beverages. A similar 2-part rule is applicable in Mumbai, which allows 21-year-olds to buy and drink beer while liquor s kept at 25.

In a country like India where voting age is 18 years, a girl can marry at the age of 18 and the cancer causing cigarettes and gutka can be sold to adults over 18 years of age, it does not make sense to keep the drinking age at 25 when this law is openly flouted anyway. Let’s plead with the government to be pragmatic and lower the legal age for drinking wine and beer to 21 in the first phase and later to 18 with the liquor being available to 21 years old.

For earlier related articles, click  
Wine Drinking age may be reduced to 21
Blog: Lower Drinking Age, Tighten Laws

For an interesting Sip and Spit Law in California, promoted by UC Davis, please click:

Blog: Allowing Wine Students to Sip and Spit

Subhash Arora

DRINKING AGE IN DIFFERENT STATES

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