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Liquor body presents to TN govt measures to promote 'responsible drinking'

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on January 23, 2020

The International Spirits & Wines Association of India (ISWAI), a representative body promoted by the multinational alcoholic beverage companies, has urged the Tamil Nadu government to set up more licensed drinking places to promote ‘responsible drinking’ and to curb the menace of alcohol smuggling and sale of spurious and illegal alcohol.

ISWAI’s members include global majors like Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Brown Forman, Diageo USL, Pernod Ricard and William Grant.

“If we want to create a society in Tamil Nadu that drinks in moderation, we need to have enough licensed drinking places instead of people drinking all over the place,” said Amrit Kiran Singh, Executive Chairman, ISWAI at a press conference here on Thursday.

He was in the city to announce the representation made by ISWAI along with National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) to the Prohibition and Excise Department of Tamil Nadu. The representation contained a list of issues and barriers of responsible drinking.

Highlighting that Tamil Nadu is among the States with high per capita alcohol consumption, the number of licensed drinking places is extremely low resulting in the rise in instances of drinking in public places and under-age people getting access to alcohol.

The representation was based on a ground-level research conducted by KANTAR and NFX Digital on challenges faced by consumers in Tamil Nadu.

Non-availability of desired liquor brands, over-pricing and illegal selling after permissible hours and on dry days are some of the key issues highlighted in the study conducted with a sample size of 3,000 people in Chennai. The study also found that 48 per cent of respondents prefer to drink out of home in Chennai while 44 per cent prefer to drink in cars, car parks.

The rise in drinking in cars/parking can be curbed by a more liberal licensing framework which includes bar licenses for fine dine standalone restaurants similar to the licensing norms in other metros, ISWAI said.

Terming prohibition as a good example of lazy governance, Singh said, “Prohibition did not work in the US or Europe nor it worked in Gujarat or Bihar in India.”

He also added that societal and government hypocrisy comes in the way of balanced and wholesome approach to alcohol.

Highlighting that alcohol contributes about 20-30 per cent of state revenues, Singh said, the only pragmatic approach to deal with alcohol is through enforcement and education.

He urged that all the state governments should strictly enforce provisions against drunken driving, prosecute those who serve alcohol to underage drinkers and also companies that target underage consumers through their ad campaigns.

Published on January 23, 2020

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