Kerala set to raise minimum drinking age to 23


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The CPM-led Kerala government is set to raise the minimum age for consumption of liquor in the state from 21 years to 23 years.

A decision to amend related provisions in the Abkari Act was formalised at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The government will recommend to the governor to promulgate an ordinance.

The proposal was part of the election manifesto of the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and was incorporated in the State Excise Policy released earlier this year.

Since assuming office in May last year, the LDF government has reversed the previous Congress-led government’s order to close down all bars outside the five-star category.

It has repeatedly stated that abstinence, and not prohibition, is the way forward in addressing the issue of alcoholism in the state.

The government has also highlighted that closing down bars had led to a spike in cases registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

It has initiated awareness programmes and announced more de-addiction centres as part of the new excise policy.

Reports, however, have also countered its claims on the effectiveness of the new policy and success in attaining its goals.

The government classifies 6% of the state’s drinkers as addicted consumers and 54% as excessive consumers.

The state liquor policy released in June states that Kerala has 30 bars, 815 beer and wine parlours, 34 clubs and 306 state-run retail outlets.

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