Thursday, July 31, 2008

Indians start drinking alcohol at 13

There are over 62 million alcohol drinkers in India and the age of initiation is just 13.5 years, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said Tuesday.

'The age of initiation to alcohol has come down from 19 years in 1986 to 13.5 years in 2006,' Ramadoss said.

'In India alone, there are 62.5 million alcohol users and their numbers are increasing rapidly. It is documented that more than 50 percent of all drinkers in India come under the criterion for hazardous drinking,' he added, while speaking at the India-Brazil-South Africa health ministers' conference here.

Reminding the delegates about the 58th World Health Assembly's warning on the harmful effects of drinking, the minister said: 'Drinking is among the foremost underlying causes of diseases, domestic violence against women and children, disability, social problems and pre-mature deaths'.

To denounce drinking and create awareness about its ill effects, the minister proposed to observe World No Alcohol Day' on Oct 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

'In making this suggestion, I voice the sentiments of 1/6th of humanity living in the world's largest democracy (India).

'In addition, we would also like to urge the institution of a Framework Convention on Alcohol Control similar to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,' Ramadoss said, while seeking support of Brazil and South Africa to fight the alcohol menace.

Brazilian Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao, South African Health Minister Tshabalala Msimang and health officials from both countries are in India for the summit.