The move was first announced last year

The move was first announced last year

The Indian state of Bihar has abruptly halted all alcohol sales, bringing forward a planned ban by six months.

The move means no alcohol can be legally consumed in the north-eastern state, including in bars and restaurants. The ban, first announced last year, was intended to be phased in from today but chief minister Nitish Kumar reportedly advanced the deadline, saying "now was the right time for social change in Bihar".

Kumar claims he is fulfilling an election promise made to women voters, saying that consumption of liquor in the impoverished state had "badly hit families".

Companies that sell Indian-Made Foreign Liquor in the state include United Spirits, Radico Khaitan and Globus Spirits. The state also houses breweries operated by Carlsberg's Indian unit and Cobra Beer. Excise officials earlier clarified, however, that there will be no ban on production.

In 2014-15, Bihar earned up to INR36.5bn (US$550m) in excise from liquor, with a major portion of it coming from country liquor sales.

Bihar is now the fourth dry state in India, along with Gujarat, Mizoram and Nagaland. A phased ban is in effect in Kerala.

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