Social media is rife with numerous views in this regard.
According to the Tobacco and Alcohol Authority between 65% - 70% of the country’s population do not consume alcohol.
Of this figure around half of them are females, said the Tobacco and Alcohol Authority Chairman Dr. Palitha Abeykone, adding that of the males between 15% - 20% do not consume alcohol.
However, he said in comparison with the European countries, even though the percentage is smaller, this category are those who consume alcohol excessively.
Deaths due to consumption of alcohol between 10,000 – 15,000:
“In the western countries the Ethanol usage is around 3.5 to 4 litres per year. However, in some parts of Sri Lanka the individual consumption is over three times that amount.”
Alcohol leads to many health and social problems. Some people who cannot afford to purchase legally manufactured alcohol tend to resort to illegally manufactured alcohol.
According to official data available, around 10,000 to 15,000 deaths are reported every year due to alcohol consumption.
Biggest issue is Kasippu:
''We should either take stern decisions as in Saudi Arabia” – Mangala Samaraweera, Finance Minister
Meanwhile addressing a media briefing held in Colombo on Friday (10), Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the biggest problem currently affecting Sri Lanka is the consumption of Kasippu (moonshine).
Of those consuming alcohol around 49% are those who consume Kasippu and wild toddy (wal ra), according to a survey conducted by the Colombo University recently, the minister said.
Irrespective of Kasippu, the minister pointed out that around 84% of Sri Lankans consuming alcohol are in the practice of using hard liquor. However in countries such as Indonesia, Thailand etc people do not consume hard liquor to a great extent.
“In those countries only around 11% - 12% of alcohol consumers use hard liquor while the rest only consume beer. In fact if you look at Europe, this is even more evident,” he said.
However, responding to claims that by reducing the price of beer, those consuming it will not stoip at that and would also consume hard liquor he said, “If we look at it that way and increase the price of beer, those consuming beer will also find that it is then cheaper for them to consume hard liquor,” the minister added.
The minister pointed out that there are two mechanisms that a country can adopt in relation to alcohol consumption.
“Either we must take a hard stance like in Saudi Arabia or we need to look at it in a practical sense and try to reduce people’s alcohol consumption by way of limiting them to consume soft liquor such as beer. That was the motive in implementing this new formula,” Samaraweera pointed out.
Whatever you drink it’s Ethanol:
However, one cannot claim that consuming beer is better for one’s health than consuming hard alcohol.
For example the Ethanol content that one would ingest by consuming alcohol with an alcohol content of 32% is the same as consuming four cans of beer with an alcohol percentage of 8%.
When we asked the Tobacco and Alcohol Authority Chairman Dr. Palitha Abeykone if consuming beer was less harmful to the body, he said it was a mere false belief, adding that no matter what you consume it is eventually Ethanol that is consumed.
Two points in formulating policies:
He said two proposals had been made in formulating alcohol policies in Sri Lanka.Among them are:
Maintaining the percentage of those not consuming alcohol (65% -70%) at the same level and Formulating a plan to gradually reduce the number of persons consuming alcohol.
Meanwhile, some had expressed concern over social media that by reducing the price of beer, this could entice the younger generation to consume it.