Start alcohol cessation programmes, govt told

Start alcohol cessation programmes
A former deputy health minister says the government should start a specific programme for alcohol addicts to seek help and treatment. (Reuters pic)

PETALING JAYA: A former deputy health minister and a consumer group said the government should start providing alcohol cessation programmes for alcoholics or those who drink irresponsibly.

Dr Lee Boon Chye told FMT that most of the services available were provided by private organisations. For example, psychiatrists and NGOs.

“It would be good for the Ministry of Health to have a specific programme to seek help and treatment for alcohol addicts,” he said.

While the government paid attention to the severity of the issue by banning, among others, the sales of liquor goods. Lee said most of the efforts were carried out with “religious overtones.”

“Drink driving is a completely distinct problem that should be addressed by education and a harsher penalty for drunk drivers,” he said.

The Malaysian Consumer Movement (MCM) said that society must understand that reckless consumption of alcohol is a social issue. It is adding that “people need to avoid turning it into a problem of race and religion.”

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL)

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL)

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) recently announced its 2021 liquor licence rules. The Kuala Lumpur grocery stores, convenience stores and Chinese medicine stores will lose the right to sell hard liquor from Oct 1.

Beninder Johl, vice-president of MCM and lead activist, praised the change. However, he said the initiative must be followed by education to continue to highlight the dangers of drinking.

After that, Johl said Malaysia was the 10th largest user of alcohol in the world, according to the World Health Organization’s 2011 report.

“Furthermore, this is shocking considering our population numbers and calls for the immediate implementation of all-out education and cessation programmes to curb this greater social issue,” he said.

Malaysia's alcohol excise duty

Malaysia’s Alcohol Excise Duty

He said Malaysia’s alcohol excise duty is the second highest in the world. The raised fund should be used to educate the public. It also to set up help centres for those who wish to avoid drinking.

At present, we don’t see anything achieved in terms of education. To this end, we would recommend that funds be channelled to religious organisations where activities among members could be carried out.

Lee warned the government, however, to use the tax on liquor goods to help people stop drinking.

Lastly, ring-fence financing is contingent on the prevailing strategy of the budget. Such support has benefits and disadvantages,” he added.


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