The prime minister of Saint Lucia Kenny Anthony said recently that Saint Lucians should not expect this government to increase taxes on alcohol and cigarettes anytime soon. This, even as government is facing a fiscal deficit and seeking ways of increasing government revenue. Never mind too, that this nation is facing an alcohol addiction problem with an increasing number of young people caught up in the cycle. The laws pertaining to the sale and consumption of alcohol to minors is hardly ever enforced in Saint Lucia.
As if we needed further proof that we are indeed a nation of drunks, the WHO recently released the results of its 15-year global alcohol consumption survey. Two Caribbean nations are in the top ten countries ranked by per capita consumption. They are Grenada at number 5 and Saint Lucia at number 9.
According to the report, the per capita yearly pure alcohol consumption in Grenada is 12.4 liters. Researchers looked at all the different drinks people consume solely in terms of their alcohol content, which eliminates differences between wine, beer and spirits. That works out to between three and four drinks per person every single day.
According to Caribbean News Now senior correspondent, Grenadian Marcia Braveboy, the culture of intoxication there began after Hurricane Ivan hit on September 7, 2004.
“Hurricane Ivan had a debilitating effect on the people at the time and it seemed that developing illnesses accelerated under the heightened stresses brought on by the storm,” Braveboy says.
Saint Lucia comes not far behind Grenada with 11.6 liters per capita yearly pure alcohol consumption. This figure has been on the increase over the last five years within which Saint Lucia has faced two major natural disasters. Some local physchologists have pointed to the poor state of the economy as a reflection of the increase in alcohol consumption.
The United States doesn’t crack the top 25 of the list coming in at number 37 with 8.77 liters of pure alcohol consumption per capita every year. The country at number one is Belarus.