On Monday, Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa signed off on closing 500 government liquor stores—and started down the counterproductive path taken by other states such as Gujarat, Bihar and Kerala.
Liquor sales in Tamil Nadu make up about 5% of the government’s revenue. With state debt rising and public spending seemingly non-negotiable, how does the government plan to make up for the loss? Over in Bihar, Nitish Kumar faces similar problems, with prohibition costing the government 4% of its total revenue.
Prohibition is a particularly ineffective form of populism—contributing to a rise in criminality and raising health risks by driving alcohol production and distribution underground. According to the World Health Organization, about half of the alcohol consumed in India is unrecorded. State governments should do more to bring consumption above ground, not push it deeper under.