Would prohibition reduce alcohol consumption?

I appreciate Vaiko’s recent ‘padayatra’ march against alcohol consumption and demanding prohibition in Tamil Nadu. It’s rare to see politicians take up such causes. I do remember that banning ‘bars’ in liquor shops was the first ruling passed by our current CM in her first term, but I haven’t come across politicians doing much about alcoholism, thereupon. On the other hand, I have read that politicos distribute alcohol just before elections and that is one reason why the wine shops remain closed during elections.

I am proud that I live in a country that does not allow advertisements for alcohol/tobacco products and this rule has been in force for a considerable amount of time, now.   Gujarat has already set an excellent example by prohibiting alcohol (though it maybe unofficially available) and other states should look at following the example set by Gujarat. People who criticize the politicians and Government at every available opportunity should look at such positive aspects, as well. 

Let us make no mistake, drinking alcohol is bad for the mind and body. It is no secret that alcohol leads to anti-social behavior and increases the risks of accidents. What you say or do while incapacitated by the liquid can turn against you right on the next day. 

Until I was in college, alcohol was always on the sidelines. I knew some of my classmates were drinking alcohol, but they would never do it in college or in a public place. Drinks were mostly consumed secretly and it was relatively less frequent (mostly due to the non-availability of money).

But once people started earning, they started spending their hard-earned money rather lavishly, on alcohol. Alcohol consumption became a regular weekend activity, and for many, this was the only activity during weekends! I (used to) know some ppl who drink alcohol almost daily.

However, I was exposed to bigger shocks after I took up a career in ‘Sales’. One can almost say ‘Alcohol & Sales – Bhai Bhai‘. I am not saying that everyone in that career is a drunkard, but many of them are. Sales meets, discussions, vendor meets, product introductions and even casual meets involved alcohol in some way.

The strange (and hypocritical thing) I noticed was – People in the middle-level and top management were not addicted to alcohol. Many of them did not even touch alcohol and others drank very little, just to give company. You think it’s got to do with their age? Nonsense. They very well know the ill effects of alcohol as they have already gone through the cycle and hence are now abstaining from alcohol damaging them any further.

But, it is these same people who will encourage others in the lower level (executive and entry-level management) to drink. In some companies, senior management would even sponsor drinking sessions in bars. Their assumption is simple – If you keep addicting the persons on the field (and sometimes even customers), they would dance to the tunes of the management and bring in more results. Of course, at the price of their health. Secondly, some use alcohol as a means to get out people’s thoughts and secrets, and use it against them, later on.

I know one person (my ex-colleague) who was such a chronic drinker of alcohol. But once he got married, one fine day, he decided not to drink any more and he just stopped drinking! I also know another person who was a chronic smoker and one day, he put the packet of cigarettes on the road and decided not to touch it henceforth. And that was the last day he smoked!

I admire such people. It takes a lot of determination (and perhaps suffering) to reach to such a conclusion and not be tempted thereafter. If they can show so much guts after being addicted heavily, I would consider such people to be strong-minded and even better than people like me, who would not drink alcohol due to the fear of the liquid spoiling good health. These are the kind of people who can (and have) reached great heights in life.

To answer the question that I asked in the title, I do think that prohibition will reduce alcohol consumption, but people with a lot of money could find unauthorized means to get alcohol. The price of alcohol will increase and there will be the risk of consuming spurious liquor. This is one clear instance where your hard-earned money can turn against you. Think about it!

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  • hitchy

    I don’t know if it would solve a problem… In Gujarat, alcohol is banned… but any tom dick and harry can easily purchase it at not too high a rate than the states in which it is allowed… though the one good thing because it is prohibited is that after drinking the people are kinda mellow… I guess coz if they are caught they will either go to jail or will have to bribe a police officer… and being caught drunk is a crime… so… and that I think is one of the reasons why Gujarat is a safe place for women… !

  • KP

    My answer to the question you have raised in your title is that prohibition will certainly reduce alcohol consumption.The chronic drinkers may still do stealthily.But the new recruits to this habit will gradually dwindle.The governments are not enthusiastic for the reason this is a big source of revenue.
    Many men from the working class spend their earnings on drink and keep their families in hardship and poverty.Prohibition over a period of time will reduce crime,increase literacy level ,and bring in prosperity.

  • sm

    it will not work, but politicians and babus will become rich because of corruption.
    Gujarat is example it is available even if it is banned

  • Jeevan

    Drinking alcohol has also become a status symbol for some people. I know there are many drivers drink at nights after their day safari esp. during long journeys. Unless we control our mind we can’t drive away this habit. I too hope banning liquor will do much better, if not suddenly, it can happen at slow pace… but I couldn’t see a step forward in this path. Only drinkers are at rise day by day.

  • Praveen

    From my personal experience – the people who are at lower level or who have just started earning indulge in binge drinking as if some flood gates have been opened. Soon, they understand the repercussions of their addiction & slow down as they move ahead. And I have seen many people who have put a full-stop to the addiction with their will power. It’s not hard, even I did so. But I just wanted to have the experience & I had it.So, I am over it.
    And Prohibition do has its effect though major impact is seen in 2-3generation later, between which society changes a lot.

  • Sandhya Kumar

    If amma makes up her mind, she can bring the prohibition, strictly, though it might be available illegally and spurious liquor consumption will become more. But like in Gujarat, if the punishment is severe, then it might reduce during the course of time.

    My husband was a smoker for 31 years and one day, stopped it suddenly. I know that he suffered the withdrawel symptoms, but he was determined to stop and did it. It is many years now, since he has stopped. Though he is a business man, very rarely he went to the parties and he never liked to drink. He used to have it occsionally…even that is a very long time now. Unless people make up their own mind they cannot stop.

    My servant maid’s husband has become an alcoholic for the past 2 years now and she is thinking of leaving him now because her sons have started using bad words which he uses when he is drunk. I feel sad for her. All her neighbours – men – drink, she says and beat their wives.

  • SG

    Yes, prohibition will certainly reduce alcohol consumption. Even though illegal/illicit liquor will be available, it will not be readily available for everyone. People who want to drink alcohol have to make an effort and go look for it to buy. Right now, it is readily available in almost every street via TASMAC. Make it harder to get and automatically consumption will be reduced.

  • Prasanna Raghavan

    I do not think prohibition can do anything to curb the habit of the individuals, which according to your post and from my own experiences is a carefully inculcated one; more over it is a big money churning business.

  • Anu

    Yes, the prohibition would definitely reduce the amount of consumption per person. There may be hidden places that sells illegal alcohol, but the public would be afraid atleast a bit. If prohibition comes along with huge penalty / fine or imprisonments if someone breaches the rule, there the consumption would reduce drastically. You know, drinking socially is ok as long as one’s mind and behaviour is under control. When it outbursts into a public nuisance, a crime is created. So, it’s an individual’s responsibility as well.

  • Avada Kedavra

    I love this post of yours. I think banning is definitely going to help to an extent for sure. Every Tom, Dick and Harry drinks these days. It has kind of become like a social status symbol or something. If you do not drink, then you are not modern or some such notion. What people dont understand is that drinking is bad for health. People think imitating what westerners do makes them look cool.

  • Ashwathy

    I doubt if prohibition is the answer to anything. First of all, it isn’t the state’s responsibility to worry about whether or not people drink. That’s what I feel. If the state wants to get moralistic about these things then the list is endless.

    We prohibit children from talking about taboo topics like sex. Does it stop them from wanting to know more, or even trying to understand about it from various sources? No. In fact it increases the curiosity to experiment.

    However enforcement of laws that make sure people land behind bars if they make trouble after drinking…. THAT makes more sense to me. That way the state is saying, look u do what u want for your entertainment…but that doesn’t mean u become a nuisance to society (ie, beat up people on the road, bad-mouth others, etc etc)

  • Reema

    I seriously doubt how serious the politicians are and dont have ulterior motives. But I for one simply hate alcohol habit more than smoking and here in Banaglore, drinking is much prevalent with pubs and all.

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