A study conducted by the Department of Economics at the University of Colombo states that illicit alcohol accounts for 49% of the total alcohol market in Sri Lanka. This figure is comparable with estimates done by the WHO and other agencies in the past.
The study finds that Nuwaraeliya, Puttalam, Kegalle, Monaragala, Badulla, Kilinochchi are some of the heavily illicit using districts with illicit products heavily dominating the alcohol markets in the areas.
Illicit alcohol per capita consumption for potential alcohol users remains around 14 proof liters per year However, per capita consumption of illicit user is around 53 proof liters per year
Weak detection & uneven tax policy
Heavy alcohol consumption is predominantly prevails among illicit users since illicit liquor is easy to access, widely available and relatively cheaper. The study also cites increase in prices of licit alcohol as well as uneven taxation as other reasons.
However, detection of illicit alcohol remains very weak suggesting that alternative meathods are required to reduce the consumption.
Previous studies state the presence of substantial health costs/risks due to illicit alcohol consumption.
The study also recommends the rationalization of prices of licit alcohol, not only to discourage the use of illicit alcohol but to also reduce economic, health, social, and psychological costs on the way, maximizing government revenue.
It is also imperative that government study the trends in the illicit alcohol market on regular basis, the study further notes.