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, looks at what's going on in-market to promote a responsible role for alcohol in society.

Insurance. The Financial Supervisory Commission of Taiwan has announced that, from 1 March, drink-driving offenders will be subject to financial penalties levied through their car insurance companies. Drivers will be subject to a punitive insurance surcharge of TWD2,100 (US$69) per drink driving citation, increasing indefinitely with each subsequent offence.

Nicaragua’s Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP), which represents major insurance companies in the country, has proposed that insurers not be required to provide coverage to intoxicated drivers involved in road traffic crashes. COSEP President Jose Adan Aguerri asserted that “the insurance companies will not pay for someone who has more than 0.5 [mg/ml] blood alcohol,” because he or she should be considered “guilty”.

Mailed. The Belarusian police have launched an initiative that will allow members of the public to use the state postal service free of charge when reporting producers of illicit alcohol. Postal service officials said that citizens will not need to use a stamp when placing such mail in post boxes. Citizens will not be required to reveal their own name, but will need to include the alleged offender’s address or illegal distillery location.

Illegal alcohol production is also a major concern in Russia. Last year, Russian consumers purchased approximately 10m litres more whisk(e)y than was legitimately available on the market. Counterfeit beverages are reportedly openly available from websites advertising "replica elite alcohol", and there has recently been a significant shift in Russia’s illicit market away from illegally-distilled vodka towards high-end counterfeits of major Western spirits brands.

Limited. In Australia, bars in Darwin have voluntarily agreed to limit patrons’ purchases to four drinks during happy hours and after midnight. Additionally, they have agreed that sales of shots will be banned after 0100. and agreed to a complete ban on service of shots with an abv of over 51%. The initiative is part of efforts to reduce alcohol-related violence in the city.

The City of Plasencia in Spain has announced the launch of a responsible service programme in cooperation with local establishments to help promote safer nightlife, an extension of the collaboration between the Government Delegation for the National Plan on Drugs and the Spanish Federation of Hotels and Restaurants. In Plasencia, the six establishments that have joined the programme have agreed to adhere to a code of practice and to put their staff members through a training course on responsible service.

Research. ICAP is sponsoring a newly-launched study on unrecorded alcohol in Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, which will survey 1,200 to 1,400 respondents in each of the three countries during 2014. ICAP deputy president Marjana Martinic said the study would help create a more complete portrait of the illegal alcohol market in the region by better defining its size and structure, while also detailing the characteristics of its consumers and vendors. The coordinated international study represents the first of its kind in the Baltic states.

Earlier this month, ICAP announced the launch of the 'International Alcohol Information Database – Research'. The freely-accessible database includes around 50,000 citations from about 3,550 peer-reviewed journals from around the world.

Flights. The Parliament of Bahrain has passed legislation that would ban alcohol beverages in Bahrain International Airport and on flights operated by Gulf Air. Airline officials had previously expressed opposition to the ban, noting that Gulf Air has already discontinued alcohol service and removed alcohol advertising from its flights. The legislation still needs final approval by the king.

Turkish Airlines (THY) has announced that it will shortly begin screening employees for alcohol consumption and drug use. The announcement was made by head of civil aviation Bilal Eksi, who said that a screening programme will begin by the end of this month. THY announced its intention to begin screening staff in November, noting at the time that around 15% of its 15,978 employees will be tested initially.

Licence. Elblag Mayor Jerzy Wilk has proposed reducing the number of retail outlets and restaurants that are permitted to sell or serve alcohol to help reduce incidents of antisocial behavior in the Polish city. Elblag currently has about 250 retail outlets and 120 restaurants and pubs licensed to sell alcohol. Mayor Wilk asserts that reducing the number of these businesses will make owners exercise more caution when serving alcohol to unruly customers. 

In the US, the Montgomery County Council in Maryland is seeking to promote nightlife business development. The county council is considering legislation that would remove the residency requirement for liquor licence holders. Current regulations require at least one licence applicant to be a county resident and have lived in the county for at least two years when applying. The council is also considering nine other alcohol law changes, including permitting beer festivals and alcohol service in beauty salons.

Compliance. The Punjab Excise and Taxation Department has reportedly issued a directive requiring that closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras and vehicle boom gates be installed at the Indian state’s alcohol producers and bottlers, citing concerns about theft and tax fraud. Staff at the departmental office in Chandigarh will reportedly observe CCTV video, and motion sensors placed at exterior gates will automatically notify authorities of activity detected after hours. 

Metropolitan Government officials will shortly begin inspecting Moscow’s retailers for compliance with regulations governing the sale of alcohol beverages. The Department of Trade is reportedly creating a team of around 20 city employees to make inspections without assistance from law enforcement officers, who will be equipped with computer tablets and portable printers enabling them to make spot checks and impose fines for various offenses such as sales to underage youth. 

Festivals. Spain’s Supreme Court has issued a ruling that upholds the City of Castellón’s ordinance permitting consumption of alcohol outdoors during certain festivals and events. The court overturned a ruling by the High Court of Justice of the Valencian Community that annulled the original ordinance on the grounds that it contradicted laws providing for municipal autonomy. Castellón officials welcomed the ruling by the Supreme Court and said that the ordinance will help to preserve the uniqueness of the city’s cultural events and neighborhood parties.

The National Drug Board (JND) of Uruguay has launched a responsible consumption campaign intended to deter harmful consumption during Carnaval del Uruguay in Montevideo. The campaign, “If you are careful, we can all enjoy ourselves", is part of efforts to promote responsible consumption of alcohol, restrict tobacco use, and regulate marijuana use during the 40-day festival. JND Secretary General Julio Calzada said alcohol consumption "is rooted in Uruguayan society" and a “cultural change” is required to prevent harmful drinking.

And finally,

Organised. French police officials have announced the arrests of 20 people suspected of stealing 'grands crus' wines worth approximately EUR1m (US$1.4m)  from Bordeaux vineyards. Gendarmerie Colonel Ghislain Réty said the thefts were committed by a “highly-organised group” that used stolen vehicles to transport the wine, then doused the vehicles in bleach and set them on fire.

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.