In a noteworthy turn of events, Punjab’s tipplers have demonstrated an insatiable appetite for liquor, consuming a staggering 20 crore bottles of Punjab Medium Liquor (PML) in the fiscal year 2022-23, according to records accessed by The Indian Express. This spike in consumption follows significant changes in the state’s excise policy implemented on June 8, 2022, allowing the unlimited sale of beer and Indian-Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL).

The excise department lists popular PML brands such as Asli Mota Santra, Ranosaunfi, Punjab Kings Whisky, Punjab Kings Rum, Rasbhari, Dholak, Don Whisky, Don Rum, and Icy Vodka. The decision to lift restrictions on beer and IMFL sales has paid dividends, leading to a 20% increase in consumption, with residents consuming approximately 6 crore bottles of each in the same fiscal year.

The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) tenure in power has seen a surge in liquor consumption, with PML retaining its position as the preferred choice among Punjabi drinkers. The state’s population, estimated at around 3 crore as per the 2011 census, has witnessed a substantial rise in liquor sales, contributing to a revenue jump of at least 40%.

The government’s strategy to attract more consumers by lowering prices has proven successful, with a liquor contractor noting a 15 to 20% increase in sales for different brands. The excise policy changes have led to a significant boost in revenue, witnessing an 11.45% increase, approximately Rs 610.86 crore, in the first eight months of the current fiscal year compared to the corresponding period last year.

Despite the surge in liquor consumption, a notable gender disparity exists, with only 0.1% of women (30,000) in Punjab consuming alcohol, according to the latest National Family Health Survey report. In contrast, around 27.5% of men (8.25 lakh) in the state are reported to be liquor consumers. The report also highlights that, usually, only one male member in a family consumes alcohol in the state.

Comparatively, women in Punjab consume less alcohol than in other states, with the highest percentage of women drinkers recorded in Arunachal Pradesh (17.8%), followed by Sikkim (14.8%), Assam (5.5%), Ladakh (3.6%), and Chhattisgarh (2.8%), according to NFHS data released in March 2022.

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