Thiruvananthapuram: The state government has decided to bring in an ordinance to raise the minimum legal age for alcohol consumption from 21 to 23.
The Cabinet on Wednesday decided to recommend to the Governor to promulgate an ordinance amending the Abkari Act in this regard.
The LDF’s election manifesto and the LDF government’s liquor policy had mentioned that the minimum age limit for liquor consumption would be raised from 21 to 23 as part of the efforts to bring down liquor consumption. The previous UDF government had raised the age from 18 to 21.
According to section 15 of the Abkari Act, those selling liquor to those below the prescribed age limit would also be held liable. A fine of Rs 5,000 has been prescribed as punishment.
Meanwhile, excise department sources said that the provision was very rarely invoked in the state. “There are even practical difficulties for retail outlets in checking the age limit of a person turning up to buy liquor. The only measure possible is to put up warning boards in front of retail outlets, bars and beer parlours. The punishment for the offence also needs to be enhanced,” said an official.
Earlier there were studies indicating that the number of young drinkers in the state was increasing. According to a study by the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre - India (ADIC), the age of initiation into drinking was 19 in 1990 and it reached 13.5 in 2014. The number of young drinkers also increased from two percent of the drinking population to 20 percent.
ADIC director Johnson Edayaranmulla termed the government decision to raise the age limit as an eyewash.