New taxes on liquor ensures healthy citizens of the future | Sunday Observer
Medi snips:

New taxes on liquor ensures healthy citizens of the future

28 November, 2021

The new taxes on all liquors, both local and foreign, in accordance with the Budget proposals tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa, has been welcomed by the large community of non-drinkers island wide.

The revised prices unveiled in detail at a special press briefing held on November 12 by the Commissioner of Excise, Law Enforcement , Kapila Kumarasinghe reveal a sharp increase in a large number of liquors ranging from locally manufactured arrack, whisky, brandy, gin, rum, wine to imported wine and beer.

The “Sunday Observer” spoke to Former Chairman of the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB), Emeritus Professor of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology of the University of Colombo. Professor Ravindra Fernando on how regular alcohol use can affect human health, for his views.

In reply he said, “ Alcohol causes physical and psychological dependence. It affects the liver, heart, pancreas, stomach and the brain. Chronic alcoholism can cause loss of appetite, social problems and sexual impotence. Alcoholics are more prone to be victims of accidents, suicide and homicide. Regular excessive alcohol consumption also increases the risk over time of chronic ill health and premature death,” he added.

Health effects apart, we asked if there were other adverse effects that alcohol addiction could have. His response was, “Alcohol causes social problems, domestic violence, child abuse. It also affects children in their studies . Research abroad has shown that underage drinking leads to academic problems in school, legal problems, physical and sexual assaults, unwanted pregnancies, suicides, vehicle accidents, abuse of other drugs, and lifelong impacts on brain development.”

Spending money on alcohol also leads to economic problems with families falling into debt due to money being spent on liquor. We asked Professor Fernando for his comments on this aspect. He said, “The economic consequences of alcohol consumption can be severe, particularly for the poor. It can also have social consequences such as contributing to violence, crime and anti-social behaviour in the community.”.

To our final question as to whether the new tax revision on liquor alone would be enough to stop addicted alcoholics and if more legislation and more fines were needed in the future with proper implementation of the existing ones and monitoring sales island-wide, he said, “Tax revision on liquor and increasing fines for illicit liquor are useful steps to reduce alcohol consumption.

A 2006 report for the European Commission argued that using taxes to raise the price of alcohol 10 percent would save 9,000 lives per year.”


Professor Fernando was mistakenly referred to as Chairman of the NDDB in last week’s Medi snip. He was a Former Chairman of the Board.