New Delhi , 9th April 2014 : The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, (MoHFW) Govt. of India organised an expert group consultation titled “Alcohol Control: Public Health Perspective – Moving forward towards a comprehensive national alcohol control policy”. The consultation was organised with an aim to raise the discourse with key relevant government departments and ministries, government alcohol monopolies, civil society organizations, media and other important stakeholders. The consultation was attended by Shri CK Mishra, Additional Health Secretary, MoHFW; Mr. Harald Sandberg, Hon’ble Swedish Ambassador to India,; Dr. Vivek Bengal, Psychiatrist from NIMHANS, representatives from the World Health Organisation and civil society members.
Speaking at the event, Shri C. K Mishra, Additional Secretary (Health) said “It is important to think of a coherent strategy and put together overall policy framework for control of NCDs where alcohol and tobacco form the basis of a policy formulation.” “There is a need to address the problem of alcohol use from public health perspective with multi-stakeholder involvement from government, civil society and like-minded organisations” added Shri Mishra
In India, Alcohol is a state subject and States/ Union territories have the power to frame policies and guidelines on issues relating to movement, possession, marketing, availability, consumption, sale and state excise rates of alcohol. Similarly, the provisions of the state excise policies differ widely from state to state with regards to advertising, promotion and sponsorships as well the minimum legal drinking age. The differential policies of the states are exploited by the industry to promote and induce new initiates as well keep the initiated addicted to alcohol. To address the above and pave the way for the development of a comprehensive programme and policy response, the consultation was organised.
“The consultation aims at sharing of global and national best practices to create a conducive environment to address alcohol problem in India from a public health perspective. The consultation also discussed a draft White Paper on Alcohol Control in India enlisting the public health interventions and programs needed to overcome the burden of alcohol in India” said Dr. Monika Arora, Director-Health Promotion, PHFI. “The inputs of state officials from excise and health department at this consultation will further inform this white paper as an outcome and a final white paper on Alcohol Control from this consultation will be presented to Government of India” added Dr. Arora
India is the dominant producer of alcohol (65%) in the South East Asia region and contributes to about 7% of total alcohol beverage imports into the region. Alcohol use in India has registered a steady growth rate of 10% to 15% each year during the past decade with greater expansion seen in southern parts of the country. The per capita consumption of alcohol, among adults, (over) 15 years in India, has increased by 106.7% between 1970‐72 and 1994‐1996. India is now one of the key markets for the global spirits industry.
To address the issue, PHFI had also released a report titled “Alcohol Marketing and Regulatory Policy Environment in India” which highlights the various characteristics of the alcohol industry. It draws attention to the key alcohol players in India and the types of alcohol products and brands available in the market. It also discusses the production and distribution of alcohol under different names. The second part of the report reviews policies that regulate alcohol in different states. The third section focuses on the advertising and promotion of alcohol products across India and how the industry circumvents laws regulating and prohibiting alcohol advertising. In conclusion, the report recommends strategies and interventions for policymakers and other key stakeholders to consider as part of a comprehensive alcohol control policy in India.
Reproduced from the Press Release of PHFI on an as-it-is basis with kind permission.
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