A ban on all kinds of marketing strategies that seek to portray alcohol consumption as normal was proposed by NGOs including Nada India Foundation unanimously, after attending a seminar on “Rampant advertising by alcohol industry in India and need for a national level alcohol control policy”.  Monika Arora, the Director of the health promotions unit of PHFI blamed advertising for promoting the use of alcohol among youth.

“It has been seen that children who are exposed to alcohol use in movies are more likely to have tried alcohol compared to those who have not been exposed,” Arora said.

The report launched on this occasion includes an overview of the alcohol industry in India, its key players, the growth patterns and advertising and promotion of alcohol products in India. “Since alcohol use is interconnected with crime, gender violence and sexual deviance, consequently its control must be the priority for the government and civil society alike,” Planning Commission member Ms. Syeda Hameed said while releasing the report.

This year, India observed three international days on health-related topics:

World Heart Day,
– International Day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking, and
World Diabetes Day

However, Indian media missed the role that Big Alcohol plays and alcohol’s connection with the epidemic of non-communicable diseases as one major risk factor.

In the face of the ever-increasing aggressive alcohol marketing and the ever increasing failure of Indian media outlets to address alcohol harm adequately and consistently, loom large now that we celebrate another international observance:

World AIDS Day.

But sadly, this year more than half a dozen Hindi films (Cocktail, Ye Jawani Deawni, Ashiqui 2, Boss etc. ) in a series featured heroes and heroines using alcohol and dancing in the movies. One part of the Bollywood industry seems to be committed to making the young generation accept alcohol as part of the highs of the day in today’s life.

According to the Annual Health Survey 2012 conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, nearly 62.5 million people in India use alcohol with a per capita consumption of around four litres per adult per year. Alarmingly, the number of alcohol-related deaths has witnessed a sharp rise of nearly 21% in 2012 over the corresponding period last year.

In year 2004-5, I along with Prof.T.K.Thomas media expert on behalf of Caring Foundation prepared a similar kind of project report funded by Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment on “Media strategies for alcohol and other drugs prevention in India”. This report is yet to see the light of the day. The findings remain the same but alcohol marketing environment has changed drastically in the last decade. I hope the present efforts of organisations like PHFI, and IOGT International and many more will bring back alcohol control policies and find a place in the hearts of the parliamentarians, legislators and policy makers, irrespective of the popular notion  that Petroleum and Liquor revenue runs the state Governments.

In this spirit news surfaced about a supreme court notice for the regulation of televise content. Currently there is no regulatory body dealing with monitoring content of alcohol marketing in India.