The dangers of excessive alcohol consumption especially during the festive season
Awareness generation and adequate checks are crucial in order to save lives
New Delhi, October 30, 2015: Excessive alcohol consumption and underage drinking are common issues, which almost all countries globally continue to struggle with. India witnesses a sudden spike in the sale and consumption of alcohol, especially during the festive Diwali season. This particularly can prove to be extremely dangerous for those with existing lifestyle diseases, the elderly and young adults. It is extremely important that awareness is raised, and adequate checks are put in place to prevent the festivities from turning into disasters.
Increased alcohol consumption is directly proportional to a rise in the number of road accidents, obesity and hypertension levels and risk of heart disease. People often take to the wheel when under the influence of alcohol and often end up risking their lives and that of others due to decisions made under an impaired judgment. Similarly, the high-calorie levels of alcohol cause obesity put additional pressure on the heart and cause a spike in blood pressure. A few moments of fun can turn to be fatal if adequate precautions are not taken.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr. A Marthanda Pillai – National President IMA and Padma Shri Awardee – Dr. K K Aggarwal – Honorary Secretary General IMA and President HCFI in a joint statement said, “Alcohol consumption is a critical challenge that contributes to various social and economic problems. It is the cause of death of over 2.5 million individuals every year (almost 4% of all deaths worldwide), and the third leading risk factor for poor health globally, accounting for 5.5% of disability-adjusted life years lost. Awareness needs to be raised about the evils of alcohol consumption and the dangers of over-consumption especially during the festive month of Diwali. Parents need to be made aware of the problems of under-age drinking and the need to counsel their children, and patients about the consequences it can have on their overall health and well-being. In addition to this, the government must take stringent steps to curb the menace of drinking and driving. "
The urgent need to raise awareness about the evils of alcohol consumption has been brought up by most National and International bodies during their annual meetings. The World Medical Association recently during its General Assembly launched a declaration, which focuses on reducing excessive alcohol consumption and framing new policies for harm reduction. The Indian Medical Association and the Heart Care Foundation of India endorse their points and believe that a problem such as this can only be tackled when collective steps are taken by all medical associations.
A few ways in which the Governments can help tackle the menace of alcohol consumption that plagues societies include
· Increase alcohol prices, through volumetric taxation of products based on their alcohol strength, and other proven pricing mechanisms, to reduce alcohol consumption
· Regulate access and availability of alcohol by limiting the hours and days of sale, the number and location of alcohol outlets and licensed premises, and the imposition of a minimum legal drinking age
· Governments should tax and control the production and consumption of alcohol, with licensing that emphasizes public health and safety and empowers licensing authorities to control the total availability of alcohol in their jurisdictions
· Public authorities must strengthen the prohibition of selling to minors and must systematically request proof of age before alcohol can be purchased in shops or bars
· Practicing alcohol marketing in a restricted way, so as to prevent the early adoption of drinking by young people and to minimize their alcohol consumption
· Imposing regulatory measures ranging from wholesale bans and restrictions on measures that promote excessive consumption to restrictions on the placement and content of alcohol advertising that is attractive to young people
· Increase public awareness of harmful alcohol consumption through product labeling and public awareness campaigns. Practicing social marketing campaigns to educate the public about harmful alcohol use. Encouraging drink driving policies and regulating health-warning labels on alcohol products, mandated by an independent authorized body
· Key drink-driving deterrents should be implemented like strictly enforced legal maximum blood alcohol concentration for drivers of no more than 50mg/100ml, supported by social marketing campaigns and the power of authorities to impose immediate sanctions
The problem of excessive alcohol consumption is plaguing the entire country, and if appropriate measures are not implemented, the number of deaths caused due to alcohol-related causes will continue to rise at a high pace. In a country like India, which is home to 1.27 billion people and records one of the highest drinking and driving deaths yearly, stringent laws and checks are a must.