A survey has found 65 percent of youths living in Jakarta and surrounding cities consume bootleg liquor, known as oplosan, raising questions about the wisdom of continuing the mini-mart ban on alcohol sales.
The survey, conducted by Nahdlatul Ulama Human Resources Research and Development (Lakpesdam), found traditional medicine, or jamu, vendors are by a large margin the main source for youths after 71.5 percent reported purchasing liquor from them.
A further 14.3 percent reported buying bootleg alcohol from convenience stores and the remainder from people who purchased it on their behalf.
Tempo reported the survey started in February and had 327 respondents aged between 12 and 21 who had been selected randomly. The survey has a margin of error at 4.5 percent.
The results have prompted NU to call for a reconsideration of the 2015 Trade Ministry regulation which removed the sale of alcohol at convenience stores and mini-marts.
“Teenagers are looking elsewhere,” Lakpesdam Director Abdul Wahid Hasyim said, as reported by Tempo.
Public health concerns had been raised when the regulation was announced, with reports of deaths, blindness and other injuries caused by bootleg alcohol common across the country.
“No one has ever died from drinking beer, but our young people could die if they drink bootleg liquor,” Hasyim said, as reported by the Straits Times.
“If a government policy leads to a vastly increased distribution of and easier access to bootleg liquor, I think this would be the wrong step by the government.”