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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Wednesday, January 06 2010. 11:35

Chandigarh Adults consume 136 bottles of alcohol annually

If one were to go by some convoluted statistics, the figures taken from the  excise department indicate that the adult population in Chandigarh consumes annually 136 bottles of alcohol, excluding beer and wine, the main reason being that the liquor is cheaper in Chandigarh than the neighbouring states.

Records show that nearly 200,000 bottles of liquor are sold in Chandigarh every day, with 65,736,000 bottles of alcohol sold in 2008-09 to a voting population (above 18 years of age) of 483,982 in its electoral rolls and translated to a consumption of over 11 bottles a month, according to a report

This has been revealed in information obtained by a local social activist under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from Chandigarh's excise and taxation department for an NGO reportedly for its campaign to stop underage drinking

Surprisingly, the information regarding liquor sales during 2008-09 does not include beer and wine. The NGO obtained information on alcohol sales from Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi.

The data showed higher per capita alcohol consumption in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh than in Punjab.

During 2008-09, Haryana's 12 million adult population drank 265 million bottles of alcohol while Delhi consumed 163 million bottles during the same period..

 The NGO claims that while the World Health Organisation (WHO) global status report on alcohol for 2004 recorded alcohol per capita consumption among 15-plus age group at 0.82 liter of pure alcohol, the average of these states and Chandigarh came to 12.44 liters of alcohol annually.

The NGO rightly protests that  ‘the Excise Act is specific about the minimum age of drinking being 25 but   there are less than 20 cases registered in these states and Chandigarh in the last 10 years for underage drinking, even though one can see children and youngsters in every bar, restaurant and disco drinking alcohol.’

'Despite specific directions in the Constitution, states ill-managed by politicians and bureaucrats take the excuse of finances and taxes generated by the alcohol industry as a reason to promote alcohol,'  complains the NGO.

The case study, apart from the indicated high rate of consumption indicates that the low  consumption of wine is in a major way restricted by the fact that the people are used to drinking hard liquor and there is not enough education to convert them to wine consumption or reduce the alcohol intake.

The data is misleading for various reasons; one of them being that due to favourable laws in Chandigarh, a significant chunk of sale is actually never made in Chandigarh but is diverted to the neighbouring states. If the laws were uniform in all the states and if the government could encourage wine consumption, the alcohol intake would be much lower.

While it may be difficult to stop people from drinking alcohol when they achieve the age of 21, 18 years does seem to be the right age for drinking an occasional glass of wine, especially in the family. However, no one can possibly condone the drinking between 15-18 years and the government needs to tighten the controls, if in fact they are not stringent as alleged by the NGO.

The young people generally are quite upset about the drinking age being 25 when they are allowed to vote at the age of 18 when the girls are even allowed to marry legally.


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