Sunday, September 9, 2018

Healthy India Alliance urge for a unified Minimum Limit Drinking Age across the country as 25 years

 Esteemed Sir,

Greetings from the Healthy India Alliance!

The Healthy India Alliance is a coalition of 13 Indian Multi-disciplinary Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), working collaboratively to strengthen CSO capacity and engagement for Non Communicable Disease (NCD) prevention and control in the country.

At the outset, we wish to congratulate the Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, for maintaining a strong stand on keeping the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) at 25years in Delhi. We are writing to you in reference to the Public Interest Litigation filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for quashing of section 23 of Delhi Excise Act, 2009 which prescribes 25 years as MLDA in the NCT of Delhi. In support of this argument, the petition also mentions that NO RATIONALE basis for section 23 of Delhi Excise Act, 2009 which prescribes 25 years as theMLDA in the NCT of Delhi, which can be supported and justified by the evidence presented below.

Healthy India Alliance is committed to support the Government of NCT of Delhi to raise strong arguments against lowering the MLDA while making efforts for a unified age of 25 years across the Nation, while also ensuring stricter implementation and penalties for violation.

In India, NCDs are responsible for 6.4 million deaths every year, which is 62% of all deaths and alcohol use is one of the key preventable risk factors contributing to NCDs. Consumption of alcoholic beverages has become a major public health concern in India and is a major contributor to death and disability. According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) Report, alcohol control is a best buy and presents an excellent case for a Return on Investment (RoI), i.e. for every $1 invested on alcohol control a return of $9.13 is expected.
A number of studies have shown that the adolescent brain is still developing until the age of 25 years. During this period, they are under social pressures to drink. At times, they try tocope with anxiety and depression with alcohol and if they're in an environment where the MLDA is less, they're not under the social stigma against getting drunk. Evidence suggests that during young adulthood, especially the college years between the ages of 18 and 25, is an important period in life during which key decisions in educational, occupational, and social realms are made that can have lifelong ramifications. Alcohol use during this period negatively affects two important regions of the brain Hippocampus (affecting memory and learning) and Prefrontal lobe (affecting planning, judgment, decision making, impulse control and language). Evidence shows that the more teenagers delay their alcohol drinking, the less likely they are to become regular consumers as an adult and can avoid alcohol-related problems later in life.
Studies also suggest that heavy drinking during adolescence and young adulthood is associated with poorer Neuro-cognitive functioning during the young adult years and particularly with impairment of attention and Visio-spatial skills. Brain imaging and studies of event-related potentials have demonstrated that heavy alcohol consumption during adolescence and young adulthood also can lead to subtle but significant abnormalities in brain structure and function.The brain continues to develop throughout adolescence and into young adulthood, and insults to the brain during this period therefore could have an impact on long-term brain function.  
We, the members of the Healthy India Alliance urge for a unified MLDA across the country as 25 years in contrast to the existing varying (18-25 years) sub-national MLDAs.
Therefore, the Government of NCT of Delhi’s decision to maintain the existing MLDA at 25 years is critically needed backed up by scientific evidence.Moreover, stricter enforcement of law that imposes firm penalties for violation of MLDA and other alcohol control measures, will further its effectiveness and success. This will also project Delhi as an ideal State and a best practice model for other states to follow.
Thanking you,

With best regards,

Member Organisations of the Healthy India Alliance
Nada India Foundation is a co-signature as Healthy India Alliance board member of this appeal to Delhi Government  
To June 4, 2018
Shri AmjadTak
Commisioner (Excise,Entertainment & Luxury Tax)
Excice, Entertainment and Luxury Tax Department
Government of NCT of Delhi

With a copy to: 
Shri Arvind Kejriwal, Hon’ble Chief Minister, Government of NCT of Delhi
Shri ShriSatyendar Jain, Hon' ble Minister of Health, Government of NCT of Delhi

Nada India Foundation  is governing board member of Healthy India Alliance.

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