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Coming soon: Awareness film for drinking classes

State excise department gets into spirit of upcoming de-addiction week, decides to make documentary on ill effects of liquor; raids across state to check bootlegging part of plan

BENT on observing de-addiction week from October 2 in the right spirit, the state excise department seems to have decided to educate the masses about the ill effects of alcohol.

Towards this end, the department even plans to reach out to the drinking classes using the audio-visual medium of mass communication.

Apart from the government's plan to introduce chapters discouraging liquor consumption as part of its de-addiction campaign, Excise Minister Ganesh Naik also wants to crack down on the illicit liquor trade


Looking at the number of tipplers who have turned to country liquor with the recent rise in Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) prices and the increase in the number of illegal hathbhatti makers across the state, the department has decided to make a documentary educating the masses about the impact of alcohol on health.

The department is also mulling over other ideas to spread awareness before a large section of tipplers turns towards cheap and illicit liquor that can affect their health.
 
According to sources, the state excise department has decided to spend a part of its increased revenue on a public awareness campaign across the state.

"We are mulling over ideas on how and what should be done as part of our social responsibility to help people avoid drinking cheap liquor, which we fear might affect the health of many," said a source.

Apart from the government's plan to introduce in the school curriculum chapters discouraging liquor consumption as part of its de-addiction campaign, Excise Minister Ganesh Naik also wants to crack down on the illicit liquor trade.

In a meeting held on Tuesday, Naik asked department officials to help check the growth of hathbhattis as the number of these across the state has reached alarming proportions.

Since the start of the current financial year, the volume of liquor sold has gone down drastically; IMFL sales dipped 15 per cent in the city and 25 per cent in the state.

Even the sale of beer bottles saw a drop of 10 per cent across the state.

And yet, coasting on the tax hikes, the excise department has witnessed a 40 per cent rise in revenue compared to the last few years.

Now, to give back to society what it takes from it, the department has decided to use a part of this increased revenue for the public awareness campaign.

A senior official from the state excise department revealed that regions such as Konkan and Thane and cities like Navi Mumbai were witnessing a spurt in hathbhattis, which the department is worried might bring in more liver problems among people.

"We are going to get tough on these illegal activities. Also, meanwhile, we are making a documentary that will be screened in all the rural and city areas educating the public about the side effects of liquor," said the official.

As cheap liquor has also been found pouring in from other states, the department has decided to conduct raids across the state to make sure that people do not consume liquor of doubtful quality that can be dangerous to their health.

The excise department is now looking for a brand ambassador to promote the campaign.

Drop service tax: Restaurant body
Sudhakar Shetty, president of Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association, feels the government needs to reduce the liquor prices and eliminate service tax in air-conditioned restaurants before sales go down further.
 
"The impact is huge. The government thinks that by increasing liquor prices people will stop drinking, but what will happen instead is that people will turn towards cheap liquor and thus affect their health.
 
We have seen a huge drop in footfalls since the new rate has come in," said Shetty.

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