State in urgent need of alcohol control policy: cancer surgeon

After waging a long battle to impose control measures on sale and use of tobacco, a cancer surgeon in the city is working towards bringing alcohol under a similar control policy in the State.

Dr. Pankaj Chaturvedi, head and neck surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital, said alcohol coming under the excise department was the biggest flaw in the system. He said the department was focused more on revenue generation and the police had no jurisdiction in implementing alcohol control measures.

Dr. Chaturvedi said, “According to a 2016 circular, the police do not have the powers to register or renew licences of restaurants. This leaves the excise department with the responsibility of enforcing rules on restaurants that serve alcohol. The irony is that the department is focused more on revenue generation than implementing control measures.”

Dr. Chaturvedi has written to the State government several times on the issue and highlighted the danger posed by the unmonitored access that underage drinkers get to alcohol. He said, “Alcohol is the second biggest preventable cause of death and diseases. It is a health issue like tobacco and we need a policy in place to control alcohol.”

Dr. Chaturvedi said the tobacco model should be applied to alcohol as well. “We need display boards outside restaurants warning that underage drinking is illegal and offenders will be sent to a remand home. The servers will be booked under Section 77 of the Juvenile Justice Act, which provides for a seven-year jail term “for any person who gives or causes to give intoxicating liquor to a child”.

‘No safe level’

The legal drinking age for hard liquor in Maharashtra is 25 years. Health experts say early accessibility to alcohol is exposing the next generation to life-threatening diseases. Last year, a study published in the Lancet said that alcohol use led to nearly 2.8 million deaths in 2016. It also busted a common myth by stating that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol use has been linked to liver cirrhosis, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, dementia, depression, seizures, gout, and cancers of the oesophagus, liver, breast, mouth, pharynx, colorectal region.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 5:01:48 PM |

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