Methanol alcohol robs a family their son
Recently I learnt of a young bloke I knew who lost his life after consuming illicit alcohol tainted with methanol after what one of the family member told your blogger was the deceased appetite for experimenting different alcohol brands. As a kid from a wealthy family, a number of investigations, instigated by the bereaved relatives and friends of victims, made it clear that bar owner where he took the alcohol have been mixing or replacing legitimate commercial products with other forms of traditional liquor. Much of this is produced in unsafe stills that leave high levels of methanol in the products people consume. Worse still, some producers are believed to be adding industrial methanol to their products to increase their potency. Methanol and ethanol are metabolized very differently by the body. One of the family member told your blogger that from her more than three decades of drinking, alcohol does not in its self pose a health problem unless you are an aggressive alcoholic. But she said as little as 10 milliliters of methanol can break down in the body to make formic acid which can attack the optic nerve and cause blindness. As little as 30 milliliters, or just a single shot, can be fatal. She said methanol is tasteless, colorless and odorless, and therefore impossible to detect in a beverage without laboratory testing and therefore as a family believes the bar owner bears the responsibility for their kin death. When tested, bottles of gin purchased in that bar were shown to contain fatal levels of methanol. In the wake of that tragedy, predictably, family is calling for strictly limiting of licensing which will lock out unscrupulous owners who are after profits.
The family believes robust regulatory systems and sensible tax policies in place to govern the sale of alcohol will go along way in avoiding such outcomes in future. But what one fact is that the illicit sector is small or non-existent. But your blogger feels that strictly prohibiting or exorbitantly taxing alcohol, will only make the black market a bigger problem. In most cases, such revenues go to criminals instead of the government budget, and public health is put at risk as the death of the young man has proved.This is why authorities needs to pursue a reform of its alcohol regulation. Reform can ensure that the production, distribution and retail of all products are more effectively monitored and controlled. However, the bereaved family views indicate a move in the opposite direction and although i understand the pain, such could potentially open the doors to prohibition and increased criminal activity. It could also creates further economic incentives for consumers and retailers to turn to potentially lethal black market products, rather than legal products that are increasingly unaffordable and unavailable. That would further risk public health, if the young man had been consuming normal alcohol he would still be alive.There is need to totally separate criminals who are counterproductive and dangerous. To stop such loss of life, reducing criminal activity, can only be achieved by having alcohol beverage tax that is specific tax and levied on the alcohol content but having different rates for wine, beer and spirits or the value of a product instead of the volume of alcohol it contains, only encourages tax evasion and illicit production that has robbed the family one of theirs. This will minimize criminals’ willingness to supply, given the opportunity to gain large profits from tax avoidance. As one family member noted, a safe, affordable, properly regulated and taxed legitimate alcohol market is the best defense against the growing threat of illicit liquor. This will protect the people who can’t live without alcohol as that young man was said to be a chronic alcoholic.