THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Believe it or not, contrary to popular theories, the number of liquor consumers in the state has been declining over the years.
The latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has also recorded a dip in consumption among people of Kerala, in comparison with the statistics of four years ago.
According to the NFHS-5 carried out during 2019-20, only 19.9% of men and 0.2% of women, both above the age of 15, in the state consume alcohol.
The previous round, NFHS-4 carried out in 2015-16, showed that 37% of men and 1.6 % of women in Kerala, both in the 15-49 age group, were alcohol consumers.
A comparison of both the reports, despite the difference in the targeted age group, shows a 46% dip in the number of consumers, say experts.
Kerala’s consumption rate among men, however, is marginally higher than the national average, shows NFHS-5.
The countrywide figures of consumption among men and women were 18.8 % and 1.3%, respectively.
As per the survey, Arunachal Pradesh has the highest consumption rate of 52.7%. Like Kerala, neighbouring Tamil Nadu has also registered a steep decline in consumption.
Compared to previous survey figures of 46.7%, TN’s latest figure, 25.4%, is much lower.
What has also validated the NFHS data is a decline in the overall sales volume of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation, which holds monopoly of liquor sales in the state.
The corporation sold 355.95 lakh cases, including IMFL and beer, in 2015-16 which dipped to 334.08 lakh cases in 2019-20.
‘Youngsters hooked to drugs now’
How ever, the corporation’s turnover went up from Rs 11,577 crore in 2015-16 and Rs 14,707.44 crore in 2019-20 as price of liquor and taxes increased considerably over the period.
Bevco chairman and managing director S Syamsundar said the declining consumption shown in the survey was a welcome trend.
It can be attributed to the Vimukthi anti-narcotics campaign of the Excise department, he said.
The main reason for the increase in turnover was an increase in the sales of premium brands, he said. Johnson Edyaranmula, director of the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC-India), said the decrease in consumption was a worldwide trend.
“The consumption trend in Kerala started declining with a massive anti-narcotics campaign conducted by the Kudumbashree, Health Department and ADIC-India. A 4% decline was recorded next year. The temporary closure of 730 bars in 2016 accelerated the trend.”
Hotelier and former working president of bar hotel owners’ association Biju Ramesh said the trend has exposed another factor which everyone wanted to keep under the wraps.
“The consumption of drugs among youngsters has increased considerably. A good number of youngsters below 30 years has switched to drugs. Liquor doesn’t attract them anymore,” Biju Ramesh told TNIE.
19.9% of men above the age of 15 consume alcohol in Kerala
0.2% of women in state drink