Alcohol consumption

alcohol consumption patterns in Indian states

BARABANKI, INDIA – MAY 12: A stampede of people looking to buy alcohol at a crowded liquor store on May 12, 2021 in Barabanki, India. (Photo by Deepak Gupta / Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The Kerala High Court recently arrested the state government for its “failure” to ensure that COVID protocols were followed at Beverages Corporations liquor stores. The High Court ordered the government to ensure that Covid protocols are followed at alcohol outlets and this said health is more important than income. He also called on the state to consider opening outlets in less busy places and avoiding main roads.

Since alcohol outlets reopened in the state in June, the state has seen record sales and huge queues outside outlets. One of the main reasons for overcrowding is that until recently alcohol was only sold at state-run outlets. Indeed, after the second lockdown, Bevco had increased the share of profits from alcohol supplied to bars to 25%, from 8% previously. This had caused the closure of bars and wine lounges across the state.

Kerala is not the only state in India to see winding lines after liquor stores reopened amid the pandemic. Cities across the country have witnessed unruly crowds, with all social distancing rules tossed to the wind, with police intervening to deal with the crowds.

How India likes its drink

India is among the top ten consumers of alcohol in the world, ranked 7th, consuming 663 million liters of alcohol. Of these, the five southern states – Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala and Karnataka account for 45% of all alcohol sales in India.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 11 percent of Indians are heavy drinkers – the global average is 16 percent. The average alcohol consumption in India is 5.7 liters per person over 15 years old. The country is also home to six crore of alcoholics.

About 21 states derive more than 15% of their tax revenues from the sale of alcohol. Additionally, despite state bans on buying alcohol under the age of 25, a study found that over 88% of Indians under the age of 25 buy or consume alcohol.

We take a look at the top alcohol consuming states in India:

Assam: According to data from Family Health and Welfare Statistics (HFWS), 59.4% of men drink alcohol in Assam, in the 15-54 age group. This is much more than the national average of 29.5 percent. Assam has 713 country liquor stores and 2,512 Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) stores. Women in Assam consume the highest amount of alcohol in India, with 44.8% of women in the 15-44 age group consuming alcohol at least once a week.

Chhattisgarh: Amid the lockdown, Chhattisgarh became the second state after Kerala to open state-run liquor stores. The state did so keeping in mind the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal that citizens of the state were experiencing. The Chhatisgarh government also allowed home alcohol delivery during the lockdown to avoid overcrowding at alcohol outlets and to curb the illegal manufacture, sale and transport of alcohol. The state received 5,000 crore rupees as part of the total collection of excise revenue from alcohol sales. More than 35 percent of the state’s men drink alcohol, while 13.7 percent of the state’s women drink alcohol.

Telangana: According to the National Family Health Survey-5, 43.3% of men over the age of 15 drink alcohol in Telangana. Rural men consume more alcohol (49%) than urban men (33.9%). However, women (6.7%) drink much less than men. The alcohol tax in the state is 10 percent of revenue share.

Sikkim: The state has a high percentage of female drinkers (19.1%) in the 15-49 age group who drink alcohol in Sikkim about once a week. In addition, in Sikkim, the percentage of women over 15 years of age consuming alcohol was higher in rural areas than in urban areas. Sikkim also has a high percentage of male drinkers, with 39.8% of men consuming alcohol.

Punjab: A 2019 study by AIIMS ranked Punjab first for alcohol consumption among children. According to the study, 1.2 lakh children in the age group of 10 and 17 drink alcohol. This despite the fact that 25 is the legal drinking age in the country. The state’s annual per capita alcohol consumption is 7.9 liters, the second highest among the states.

Karnataka: Karnataka is one of the biggest alcohol consumers in the country, absorbing 12% of national sales. The state also derives 11 percent of its revenue from the liquor tax. Karnataka, however, is among the states with the lowest alcohol consumption in the 15-54 age group for women, at just 0.1%.

Tamil Nadu: With 15%, Tamil Nadu, along with Kerala, leads the list when it comes to revenue percentage. In Tamil Nadu, the state controls alcohol sales, with TASMAC (Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation) holding a monopoly on the wholesale and retail sale of alcoholic beverages. The state is also one of the largest consumers of alcohol in the country, consuming 13% of national sales. The Madras High Court appealed to the state government to gradually ban the state, keeping in mind offenses committed against women and children under the influence of alcohol.

Goa: The state, with its party image, has always been a drinker’s paradise. About 36.9% of the state’s men drink alcohol, surprisingly less than Telangana. The Goa government, however, cracked down on alcohol consumption in public places and announced a ban on drinking alcohol on state beaches with a fine of 10,000 rupees to those who violated it.

Himachal Pradesh: According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2019-2020, 30.4% of men drink alcohol in urban areas, while in rural areas 32.1% of men do. The percentage among women is low – only 0.3 percent of women drink alcohol in urban areas while in rural areas it is 0.7 percent.

Arunachal Pradesh: A large percentage of men in Arunachal Pradesh (59%) consume alcohol, making it one of the top drinking states in India. Among women, the numbers are also high (33.6 percent). The government started collecting a 25% liquor tax in May last year, with the additional tax expected to bring the treasury rupees 70 crore per month.

Bihar: Despite the fact that alcohol is officially banned in Bihar, the dry state experiences high consumption among men (15.5% of all men over 15), according to the NFHS 2019-20. This is higher than in Maharashtra, which has no ban and where 13.9% of men drink alcohol. 15.8 percent of rural men drink alcohol in the state, while in rural areas 14 percent of men drink alcohol. This percentage is much lower among women – only 0.4 percent of women drink alcohol in the state.

Meanwhile, a recent study published in the journal The Lancet Oncology linked more than 6.3 million cancer cases in 2020 to alcohol use. Cancer of the mouth, larynx, breast, colon, rectum, liver, esophagus, all have links with alcohol consumption.

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