Every month, the International Center for Alcohol Policies looks at responsible drinking measures around the world

Every month, the International Center for Alcohol Policies looks at responsible drinking measures around the world

Once a month, the International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP), which covers alcohol policies worldwide, will look at what's going on in-market to promote a responsible role for alcohol in society.

Designated. Chinese driving services have reportedly increased designated driver services throughout the country, many of which began operations after the Criminal Law was amended to include drink driving as a criminal offence. A service manager in Beijing said that requests for a designated driver have doubled since 2011, with up to 500 requests in one day. The Criminal Law stipulates that drivers found with 0.8 mg/ml blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels may have their licenses revoked, with a five-year wait before they would be permitted to reapply for a licence. Chinese public security officials have reported a decline of 40% in drink driving cases since the amended law took effect in May 2011.

In China, Global Actions on Harmful Drinking worked with Nanjing Traffic Management Bureau and the Jiangsu Center for Health Education to perform roadside breath alcohol test training for police officials earlier this spring, with additional drink driving interventions continuing in Xi’an and Nanjing from now until August 2012. 

Small scale. The Bali Legislative Council has passed a bylaw that introduces regulation of the production of traditional alcohol, including the rice wine known as 'burak'. Requirements include a production limit of 25 litres per day. Bali legislators said the new law can protect small-scale local alcohol producers if they comply with safe production regulations.  

When developing policies to address non-commercial alcohol, governments can achieve more effective measures if they develop quality and purity standards for licit non-commercial alcohol as in Bali, provide accurate and accessible information about quality differences, or target poor quality illicit and counterfeit alcohol. In Namibia, for example, the Self-regulating Alcohol Industry Forum (SAIF) has announced a partnership with police, government ministries, and trade associations to address illicit alcohol production and consumption by first identifying counterfeit alcohol and issuing public notices assisting consumers with their identification.

Polled. A poll on minimum pricing for alcohol beverages in Northern Ireland showed that approximately 38% of respondents feel that the cost of alcohol is “too low”, compared to 32% answering that it is 'about right' and 29% that it is 'too high'. While lawmakers are discussing the introduction of a minimum price per unit of GBP0.40 (US$0.62) in England and Wales, Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots is reportedly in favour of introducing a minimum price of between GBP0.45 and GBP0.50.

Conversely, in New Zealand, acting Prime Minister Bill English recently stated that the country would most likely not introduce minimum pricing in current proposed legislation, as he did not believe there was sufficient evidence that increasing prices would reduce alcohol consumption in the same way price increases decreased consumption of tobacco products. A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research has indicated that while higher prices for alcohol reduce consumption levels among moderate drinkers, it is not as effective at reducing consumption among heavy drinkers. The researchers found that heavy drinkers were “less responsive to price” when making decisions about alcohol consumption. 

Voluntary code. ICAP has welcomed the announcement of a signed agreement for the Code of Advertising Standards in Mexico developed among key governmental and alcohol industry organizations. ICAP senior VP Brett Bivans said that this initiative “is a visible step to prevent perceived problems with marketing communications, and to resolve any potential real issues that might arise.” 

Alcohol producers in other countries have recently established advertising codes of practice, including the wine and spirits sectors in Vietnam. Additionally, beer, wine, and spirits producers in China have recently reaffirmed their commitment to advertising self-regulation.

Protest. Moroccan alcohol, hospitality, and tourism federations have submitted an open letter of protest to the Moroccan House of Representatives over draft legislation prohibiting alcohol advertising submitted by the Islamist PJD party. Instead, the letter suggests, officials would submit legislation creating awareness programmes and support for alcohol-related health issues.

Recently, the Russian State Duma reportedly passed on first reading legislative amendments that would prohibit all alcohol advertising in online media. And, in Bolivia, the Senate passed legislation banning alcohol advertising from media outlets from 1800 hours to 2100.

The play’s the thing. The Karnataka State Temperance Board in Bangalore, India, has organised an awareness campaign that encourages residents and youth to abstain from consuming alcohol. The effort will focus on 30 villages in Uttara Kannada and Chamarajanagar and will include street theatre productions to reinforce the campaign’s messages.

Educational campaigns can play an important role in providing information to youth about drinking patterns and outcomes, particularly if the campaigns are culturally appropriate and provide accurate and balanced information about social and health implications.

One month. In Fukuoka, Japan, Mayor Soichiro Takashima has prohibited all of the municipality’s public servants from consuming alcohol in public places for one month. The policy was announced following several incidences of alcohol-related disorder involving senior city employees, and Takashima said that the prohibition was to act as a deterrent for other city employees. 

While the Fukuoka drinking prohibition was instituted as a reaction to scandal, employers do need to address alcohol-related harms in the workplace to protect employees’ health and occupational safety. By providing clear and enforced standards of conduct and employer-sponsored alcohol education programmes, as well as targeted interventions for at-risk employees, employers can create a safer and more productive work environment.

And finally…

Olympic. The Russian Government has banned alcohol consumption by members of Russia’s Olympic Delegation while attending the Olympic Games in London next month. In addition, four hospitality venues run by Russian Olympic Committee officials during the Games also have stated they will not sell or offer alcohol beverages at their venues.

Kommersant reports that the prohibition will include banning committee members from toasting medal-winning athletes. The newspaper also writes that the decision was made in response to the "disastrous results" of the Russian team at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, where Russian athletes won only 14 medals out of a predicted total of 50.

The International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP) is a not-for-profit organisation supported by major international producers of beverage alcohol. Established in 1995, ICAP’s mission is to promote understanding of the role of alcohol in society and to help reduce harmful drinking worldwide. ICAP’s efforts to foster dialogue and partnerships in the alcohol policy field are shaped by its commitment to pragmatic and feasible solutions to reducing harm that can be tailored to local and cultural considerations and needs. ICAP has been recognised by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) as a non-governmental organisation in Special Consultative Status.

Click here to learn more about ICAP.