By Caribbean News Now contributor
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — The government of Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell is planning to cut back on the sale of alcohol to teenagers in Grenada before he leaves political office. The prime minister wants to ban the sale of alcohol to young people, especially young people of school age.
Mitchell has said there is an alarming increase in alcohol consumption among the country’s youths, and more has to be done to protect them from a lifetime of addiction and early death.
“The growing recognition that alcohol consumption is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease means that alcohol requires greater attention by the public health community that it is receiving at present. We know that doing nothing doesn’t work,” Mitchell said.
He believes that an appropriate policy response is needed to address the health and social problems associated with use of and dependence on alcohol in Grenada.
“The growing awareness of alcohol consumption is one of the major risk factors to public health; my government would search for policies that will protect and promote our youths health and prevent harm and address the social problems associated with the use of alcohol,” Mitchell said, noting, “The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are about two billion people worldwide consuming alcoholic beverages and 76.3 million with diagnosed alcoholic use disorders.”
Mitchell believes that the increase in alcohol consumption among Grenadian youths has never received any attention from former governments and from the population in general.
“Nothing has been done to address the increasing use of alcohol among our youths, its associated burden and the new challenges that derive from the growing influence of the alcohol industry in Grenada,” he said.
According to the WHO, Grenada tops regional alcohol consumption in the Americas, with an average consumption of 12.5 litres of pure alcohol per person per year.
“We are proposing and enacting new legislation into law to protect our youths. We intend to do something about alcohol negative role in our society once and for all and reduce its harmful use.
“The population has a drinking problem, and there is an expected increase in the number of potential new alcohol consumers, especially young people and women.
“I have a duty to protect the population in general, and women and children in particular from alcohol-related harms. We must address the consequences of excessive alcohol here at home,” Mitchell said.
Nevertheless, there exists a general perception among some in Grenada that there are more urgent problems that need to be addressed than the use of harmful use of alcohol.
Further, this good intention will require innovative leadership from the Mitchell government and from international agencies charged with protecting health, children’s rights and development.
However, without intervention, Grenada is likely to face a future involving an ever-increasing burden of death and disability associated with alcohol use.