The Bedoun demonstrating in the Taima suburb of Jahra.
‘Strict laws must to stop bootleggers’ Alcohol ‘easily available’

THIS WEEK’S online poll by Arab Times dealt with the impact of alcohol ban in Kuwait. A majority of respondents, 40%, felt that a ban has paved the way for bootlegging. Interviewees Arab Times spoke to said that illicit alcohol is not very costly in Kuwait which shows that alcohol is easily available.

They noted that a ban should be backed with strict laws to curb illicit bootleggers to make it fully effective; otherwise consumers are at risk of depending on illegal alcohol, which could be more harmful to health.
In contrast to the first opinion, 18% of voters said that despite the illegal trade of alcohol, a ban always helps in cutting down consumption levels in a country.

People taking this view said that a ban has brought down consumption level at least in individual cases familiar to them. Family members and friends of these interviewees known to be regular drinkers in their home countries turn into abstainers under the ban. When it’s illegal there’s a fear that discourages people from over-indulging in drinking.

Some respondents preferred to take a more objective stance, saying the effect of ban can be understood only if we conduct a study on the prevalence of alcohol-related illnesses in the country.

They opined that the effect of a ban will be felt neither on hard-core drinkers, who will always find a workaround to acquire alcohol, nor abstainers, who will not touch drinks even when it is freely available. “Rather, a ban will largely affect people in-between these two categories, the occasional drinkers, who are the majority.”

Further, respondents noted that the in-between category of drinkers is easily discouraged by a ban, because in their case the fear of violating the law overpowers their temptation for indulgence. When this large group practices abstinence, or at least restricts consumption to a certain limit, the number of people migrating into gradual alcoholism from this group is also reduced, they added.

About 15% of the voters felt that alcohol is easily available in embassies and camps in Kuwait. When people holding this view spoke to Arab Times, they noted law has to be evenly applied in a country. Often times these channels also become access points for normal citizens and expatriates, who are not part of embassies or camps, to acquire alcohol.

The second largest number of votes, 23%, supported the view that said there’s an increase in illicit bootlegging. Premium alcohol brands are being smuggled into Kuwait, they noted.

A small percentage of voters also felt that due to the ban, alcoholics are turning to some brands sold as perfumes in local shops. “This, they feel, is a disguised way of selling alcohol, as these perfumes are non-scented, which undermines the very purpose of a perfume.”

By: Valiya S. Sajjad Arab Times Staff

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