Bottling a problem

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/21/2019 11:54:51 AM IST

 What could be learnt from the recent launch of North East Artists Network (NEAN), an initiative under the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition (NLTP) Act 1989 is that enforcing the Act was easier said than done. As per the information shared during the launch, 50% of indoor patients admitted to the hospital suffered from ailments caused by excess consumption of alcohol. On this point, it could be worthwhile to mention that excessive intake of alcohol could cause high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. The serious consequences of excessive intake of alcohol could also trigger cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, and colon. The other information shared was that consumption of alcohol registered a rise between the ages of 18 and 60. Prohibition is primarily to prevent manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol. Proponents of prohibition seriously believe that alcohol is the main cause for causing family divisions and conflicts, main cause for crimes and health. Such a scenario has led proponents focus on three ‘reductions’- harm (alcohol-related diseases), demand (prohibit drinking) and supply (prevent sale). Since the NLTP Act 1989 came into effect, albeit through external pressure exerted on the then government and not through an informed debate; Nagaland has become a contradiction of being a dry state officially but totally wet practically. Prohibition has been discussed even in the house besides various consultations but the outcome appears to have gotten stuck. Looking at the ground reality, it would seem that the Act has not been a success. However, it still does not mean that the Act has not achieved anything. The antagonists believe that prohibition is  a failure. It did not eliminate drinking but only led to creation of a huge black market. That in turn spawned criminal syndicates whose money power has permeated political and social strata. Perhaps prohibition may have reduced potential users but it has still not stopped consumption. In America, when prohibition was imposed, from 1921 to 1929, consumption increased by over 500%, according to a report by the federal Wickersham Commission. The dry law achieved few of the goals it set out to meet, and on the way became a platform for organised crime and corruption. Again, during prohibition in America, prohibition led to the consumption of often unsafe bootleg alcohol containing poisonous lead compounds, embalming fluid, creosote, poisonous methyl alcohol, and other dangerous substances. Prohibition led to the big organised crime syndicates who muscled their way to make easy profit due to the undiminished demand for liquor. The huge profit provided an incentive for criminal groups to organise themselves so as to meet the growing demands. Hundreds of thousands of people became ill, suffered paralysis, lost their sight, or died from illegal alcohol. In addition spending on substitutes for alcohol increased, including drugs such as marijuana, hashish, and narcotics. These products had potentially more harmful effects, resulting in addiction and health problems. The evidence shows that Prohibition far from solving social problems, only exacerbated them. There are those who say that it is fruitless to allow moralists to use criminal law to control intoxicating substances. Many feel that it is equally unwise to rely on the law to solve the problem. Unless there is absolute commitment backed by an effective and corruption-free agency, the Act will exist only in theory.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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