Bengaluru February 28, 2024, a pivotal roundtable discussion was convened at the IAS Officers Association in Karnataka, addressing the urgent need to mitigate alcohol consumption across the state. Chaired by esteemed figures including Justice P Krishna Bhat, Retired Judge, High Court of Karnataka, Dr. K V Trilok Chandra, Secretary to CM, Govt of Karnataka, and Sri. D. Randeep, Health Commissioner, the gathering drew a diverse assembly of experts and stakeholders who congregated to dissect prevailing consumption trends, forge policy recommendations, and underscore the imperative of intersectoral collaboration.

Dr. Vishal Rao U S, member NCD task force, Govt of Karnataka, ignited the discourse, and spotlighted the rural-urban alcohol consumption dichotomy, laying the groundwork for an exhaustive deliberation. Eminent voices such as Mr. Hemanth Upadhyay, Advisor at Consumer VOICE, spotlighted the necessity of policy frameworks to reframe alcohol consumption as a matter of entertainment rather than addiction. Mr. Tushar Gandhi, from Gateway Consulting, fortified the discussion with data elucidating per capita alcohol consumption and its concomitant health repercussions, advocating for policies entailing awareness campaigns and taxation based on Alcohol by Volume (ABV) content.

Notably, Justice P Krishna Bhat urged for clear alcohol labeling indicating pure spirit percentage, an aspect vigorously endorsed by Dr. K V Trilok Chandra, Secretary to the Chief Minister, who underscored the importance of stringent labeling akin to those on cigarette packets.Crucially, Sri. D. Randeep IAS, Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare Services, emphasized the pivotal role of the health department in policy formulation, echoing sentiments shared by other stakeholders.

Amit Karnik, Director of the Institute of Policy Research (IPR), underscored the urgency of bolstering the Alcohol Temperance Board to effectively confront excessive alcohol consumption, while Mr. Tirumala Rao, president of Verve Foundation and Mr. Lingaraju of TREDA stressed the pivotal role of education in curtailing alcohol abuse, particularly among adolescents.

In summary, the roundtable emerged as a crucible for innovative ideas and actionable recommendations aimed at quelling alcohol consumption in Karnataka. With resolute commitment and cross-sectoral collaboration, the proposed strategies stand poised to confront this pressing public health challenge, safeguarding the well-being of Karnataka’s populace.