Express press service
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Believe it or not, contrary to popular theories, the number of alcohol users in the state has declined over the years. The latest round of National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) also recorded a decline in consumption among Kerala residents, compared to statistics from four years ago. According to the NFHS-5 conducted in 2019-20, only 19.9% of men and 0.2% of women, both over the age of 15, consume alcohol in the state.
The previous round, NFHS-4 conducted in 2015-16, showed that 37% of men and 1.6% of women in Kerala, both aged 15-49, were alcohol users. A comparison of the two reports, despite the difference in the targeted age group, shows a 46% drop in the number of consumers, according to experts.
Kerala’s drinking rate among men, however, is slightly higher than the national average, shows NFHS-5. The national consumption figures for men and women were 18.8% and 1.3%, respectively. According to the survey, Arunachal Pradesh has the highest consumption rate of 52.7%. Like Kerala, neighboring Tamil Nadu has also seen a sharp drop in consumption. Compared to previous survey figures of 46.7%, TN’s latest figure of 25.4% is much lower.
What also validated the NFHS data is a drop in the overall sales volume of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation, which holds the monopoly on alcohol sales in the state. The company sold 355.95 lakh cases, including IMFL and beer, in 2015-16, which fell to 334.08 lakh cases in 2019-20.
“Young people are addicted to drugs now”
However, the company’s revenue fell from 11,577 crore in 2015-2016 to 14,707.44 crore in 2019-20 as the price of alcohol and taxes increased significantly during the period. Bevco Chairman and CEO S Syamsundar said the drop in consumption shown in the survey was a welcome trend. This can be attributed to the Excise Department’s Vimukthi anti-narcotics campaign, he said.
The main reason for the increase in revenue was an increase in sales of premium brands, he said. Johnson Edyaranmula, director of the Alcohol and Drugs Information Center (ADIC-India), said the decline in use was a global trend.
“The consumption trend in Kerala has started to decline with a massive anti-narcotics campaign by Kudumbashree, Department of Health and ADIC-India. A decline of 4% was recorded next year The temporary shutdown of 730 bars in 2016 accelerated the trend.
Hotelier and former serving president of the Hotel Bar Owners Association, Biju Ramesh, said the trend revealed another factor that everyone wanted to keep secret. “Drug use among young people has increased dramatically. Many young people under the age of 30 have turned to drugs. Alcohol no longer appeals to them,” Biju Ramesh told TNIE.
19.9% of men over 15 consume alcohol in Kerala
0.2% of women in the state drink