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Nearly 40% Sri Lankans consume alcohol

Nearly 40 per cent of Sri Lankan adults––more than 35 per cent males and two per cent females––consume alcohol, the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) says.

Addressing the media at the Information Department to announce the ‘National Alcohol Summit-2016’ scheduled to commence today (04), NATA Chairman, Dr Palitha Abeykoon, said a survey carried out in 2008 showed over 48 percent Sri Lankan men consumed alcohol.

Dr. Abeykoon said that the alcohol industry claimed that it helped the government rake in a large amount of revenue, but the truth was otherwise. The total amount of taxes collected last year from the industry amounted to Rs. 106 billion while the Health Ministry spent over Rs. 140 billion on battling non communicable diseases (NCDs) and treating victims of accidents due to alcohol consumption. Alcohol caused approximately 60 NCDs and led to domestic violence and child abuse, Dr Abeykoon said.

The summit organised by the Health Ministry in collaboration with NATA would be held at the BMICH with President Maithripala Sirisena as the Chief Guest. The theme will be ‘Towards Alcohol free Sri Lanka.’

The NATA Chairman observed that each village wasted about Rs. 175,000 per month on alcohol and Rs. 150,000 on cigarettes and other tobacco products. The National Policy on Alcohol Control, to be launched at the Summit, would fulfill a long-felt need, Dr Abeykoon said.

Health Ministry Director for Mental Health Dr. Chitramali de Silva said the goal of the National Policy was the elimination of all forms of promotion of alcohol products, to enforce pricing, trade and investment policies related to the different aspects of alcohol trade, to reduce availability of and accessibility to alcohol and to strengthen supportive services and rehabilitation with assistance from the community. She observed that the main target groups as regards the implementation of the policy were the youth and the poverty stricken people.

Technical Officer, Management of Substance Abuse, WHO Geneva, Dag Rekve said that annually over three million people died in the world due to alcohol consumption.