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.

Abolished. The Moldovan Government has reportedly abolished all viticulture and winemaking licensing activities in the country. The Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry said that the existing licensing system was too restrictive to trade, in that it negatively impacted small- and medium-level producers, and that a special register of viticulture and winemaking would be introduced.

The German Government is also considering reducing government involvement in alcohol production. Draft legislation is under review that would abolish a subsidy for small distillers. The Ministry of Finance introduced the bill following a European Commission ruling that the subsidy is incompatible with European Union law. The subsidy would be withdrawn from potato and grain distillers in 2013 and from fruit distillers in 2017.

Television. Swedish Broadcasting Authority (SBA) has written to the UK’s broadcast regulator Ofcom requesting that alcohol advertisements be removed from UK television broadcasts into Sweden. The SBA reportedly began an investigation into the content of channels originating in the UK after Swedish abstinence organisation IOGT-NTO reported 32 companies for breaching the Alcohol Act. Under the terms of the EU audio-visual directive, Swedish law applies to any broadcasts from another country wholly or mainly addressed to a Swedish audience.

However, Norway may soon have alcohol advertisements on television after the European Commission requested the country implement the EU Television Without Frontiers’ Directive. Norway postponed implementing the directive after it was amended in 2007, ending the prohibition on broadcasting alcohol advertisements from other countries.

Working Together. At a recent meeting in São Paulo, representatives from governments and government agencies, academia, non-governmental organisations, and public health discussed strategies for reducing harmful drinking. The event, “Working Together: Research, Education and Prevention”, was sponsored by ICAP and Centro de Informações sobre Saúde e Álcoo (CISA). Host speaker ICAP Deputy President Marjana Martinic noted that the CEOs of leading global beer, wine, and spirits producers recently announced commitments in five key areas over the next five years to combat harmful drinking, including in the areas of consumer information and product innovation. She explained that alcohol producers want to "play an increasing role of leadership in providing information to consumers" and still "make innovative products in a responsible manner".

Alcohol producers have been working in recent decades to reduce harmful drinking and strengthen their focus on developing products responsibly. Many of their efforts have been catalogued at Initiatives Reporting. An example would be the British Beer & Pub Association’s (BBPA) responsibility statement, which outlines their members’ commitment to actions including providing standard unit information to consumers in pubs and allowing producers to promote the merits of lower abv beverages.

Trains. Argentina’s National Commission for Transport Regulation has approved implementation of Minister of Interior and Transportation Florencio Randazzo’s resolution calling for a ban on alcohol sales and consumption throughout the national rail network. Railway Transportation Services operators are expected to carry out measures that promote the ban, including railway advertisements. 

Alcohol and trains has also been on the minds of officials at the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) Dubai. The agency has announced that alcohol is prohibited on its Metro train service, even if it is being transported from a Duty Free shop at the Dubai Airport. A RTA spokesperson said that fines are rarely imposed as most RTA staff members are only authorised to issue warnings, and that tourists are given some leeway by staff.

Taxed. The French National Assembly has passed controversial legislation introducing a 160% tax increase on beer in the country. The French brewing sector has vigorously opposed the bill since its introduction in October 2012, contending that it would increase the price of beer by approximately 20% for consumers and also negatively impact the brewing and distribution sectors, as well as the hospitality sector where beer sales constitute approximately 40% of cafes and restaurants’ income. The Law on Financing of Social Security for 2013 is expected to generate an additional income of EUR480m (US$619.5m).

In the US, following an increase in state sales tax on beverage alcohol from 6% to 9% in the state of Maryland, liquor stores in Wicomico County have experienced a decline in sales. A spokesperson from the Wicomico County Liquor Control Board said that consumers could be purchasing alcohol beverages in neighbouring Delaware to take advantage of the tax exemption and less expensive distilled spirits.

Scanned. Police in Victoria, Australia are implementing a new drink driving campaign that involves scanning the license plates of cars parked outside of pubs and sending “booze buses” to find the motorists on their way home. A police official said that mobile scanning machines will be “more effective at removing high-risk drivers” from roads during the holiday season. 

Hong Kong police have also gone more high-tech and begun using more accurate breath testing devices at roadside checkpoints. Officials began using evidential breath testing devices for the first test after noting a rise in the number of drivers who were able to evade prosecution as their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels dropped to within legal limits between the first test at the roadside and the second test at a police station. 

In Theatres. In Canada, Saskatchewan movie theatres have announced that they will begin to allow the sale of alcohol in designated “adult only” sections of their cinemas as part of broader changes to current alcohol legislation in the province. Other movie chains have responded favourably to the measure, and are expected to consider plans to introduce alcohol-friendly theatres in other locations, including in Regina and Saskatoon.

Russia is also expanding locations for alcohol sales, as the State Duma is considering legislation permitting alcohol sales from vehicles in rural areas. Legislation passed in July 2012 only permits alcohol sales from stationary retail outlets of 50- and 25-square-metres in urban and rural areas respectively, and the bill was submitted to address that some towns in rural areas cannot meet this requirement.

“Risk-free”. According to an online poll, only 18% of Czechs consider beverage alcohol consumption at bars “risk-free”. The poll had responses from approximately 500 people over 18 years old, and most respondents noted that they pay attention to the alcohol’s origin. However, only one-sixth said that they follow stamps or special certificates that indicate the origin when making a purchase.

Czech consumers’ reluctance to drink in bars stems from the series of deaths in September from bootlegged spirits that had been contaminated with methanol. The deaths lead to the Czech Government issuing a temporary ban on sales of all alcohol with an abv of over 20%, as well as a ban on exports of those beverages after pressure from the European Commission. The Czech Government has since worked to develop measures, including new security stamps, to address counterfeit and bootlegged alcohol in bars and retail outlets.

And finally,

Socialising. In the UK, Lord Justice Leveson has released a report stating that the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) and other police staff need greater guidance about drinking alcohol when meeting with members of the press. He said that meeting with journalists in hospitality settings could “increase the risk of gossip or inappropriate commentary”.

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.

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