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.

Excessive. The Finance Ministry’s Chief of Fiscal Policy expressed concern before the Indonesian Parliament that instituting excessive tariffs on alcohol beverages could encourage illicit alcohol smuggling. Bambang Brodjonegoro noted that excise taxes applied to alcohol already placed a significant burden on the country's consumers, but would not speculate on what he would consider an acceptable tariff range. 

In Israel, the Finance Ministry is reconsidering alcohol prices in response to vocal criticism over a forthcoming excise tax increase. A recent directive from Finance Minister Yair Lapid rescheduled the implementation of the increase from January 2014 to 1 July 2013, and raised the new rate from ILS84 (US$23) to ILS105 per litre of pure alcohol. Officials said the new tax increase will generate an additional ILS200m in revenue and reduce alcohol-related harms, but critics have expressed concerns that the scope and sudden timing of the increase will harm tourism and businesses.

Irreparable. An Isparta, Turkey court has reportedly nullified a gubernatorial directive banning the consumption of alcohol in the province’s public spaces, citing potential “irreparable damage” to individual civil liberties. The court’s ruling reaffirmed the governor’s authority to regulate alcohol consumption, but asserted the ban was disproportionately broad.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, the Ilhabela Board of Aldermen is considering a ban on public alcohol consumption in an effort to discourage youth from engaging in disruptive behaviour in public streets and plazas. Some critics have questioned the constitutionality of such a ban, while the president of Association Trade and Business Ilhabela (ACEI) said it would attract tourists who had “retreated away with a bad impression” after encountering alcohol-related antisocial behaviour.

Framework. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has announced that its Commission on Marketing and Advertising is developing a new global framework for responsible marketing communications for alcohol beverages. “The goal is to increase existing confidence in the self-regulatory approach even further, and ensure that it reaches across all markets,” said Oliver Gray, co-chair of the ICC experts’ group drafting the framework, adding that, by building on the commitments of 13 major global beer, wine, and spirits producers, the effort “will demonstrate responsibility via strong and coherent industry rules.” An initial draft of the ICC framework has been developed in alignment with the International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP) Guiding Principles on Self-Regulation of Marketing Communications for Beverage Alcohol.

Rails. Metro passengers in Moscow face being tested for alcohol consumption after the installation of breath testing equipment in 10 of the travel network’s underground stations as part of efforts to facilitate public disorder control. Moscow City Duma Commission on Security deputy chairman Sergey Goncharov said that the initiative violates human rights and questioned the criteria for selecting members of the public to breath test, asking on what basis people would be forced to submit to a test.

The British Transport Police (BTP) is handling issues of its own when dealing with intoxicated rail passengers. BTP released a report indicating that alcohol-related crimes recorded between November 2012 and May 2013 on ScotRail trains increased by 54% compared to the previous year, despite alcohol restrictions introduced in July 2012 that included barring intoxicated people from boarding trains. 

Internet. The Police Presidium has called on Czech Prime Minster Leoše Hegera to draft legislation prohibiting the sale of alcohol on the Internet. Police officials contend that policing online sales rather than retailers with physical premises is difficult as it is harder to trace the supply chain, which has impeded continuing investigations of counterfeit beverages contaminated with methanol.

The French Government is considering the recommendations of an advisory paper on addiction-related harm reduction that would restrict online alcohol promotion through social media websites and third-party wine blogs. The report’s author contends that youths with online access to social networks are more likely to consume alcohol than those who do not have access, and recommends officials ensure that no form of media on alcohol, including social networks, can be directed at or seen by youths.

Analysis. A new study suggests that the imposition of increased taxation on pre-mixed alcohol beverages has not reduced alcohol-related harm among young people in Queensland. The researchers from the University of Queensland calculated alcohol-related hospital admission rates for drinkers aged 15- to 29-years-old between April 2006 and April 2009 - a timeframe covering two years before and one year after the tax increase of 70% on pre-mixed drinks. They found that almost one-third of young people in emergency departments had an alcohol-related injury or illness, but that there was no decline in admissions after the tax increase.

When applied appropriately, taxation can be a useful part of a wider regulatory framework. However, a direct inverse correlation between the level of taxation in a country and the population level of drinking cannot always be demonstrated. This suggests that the impact of taxation and other regulatory measures depends on the prevailing drinking cultures and other variables.

Checkpoints. Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) officials have proposed that police conduct breathalyser checkpoints outside of restaurants in order to discourage patrons from driving after consuming alcohol. Critics contend that the presence of police checkpoints would discourage patrons from visiting restaurants, and that the large number of dining venues in the city would lead to inequalities in enforcement, possibly encouraging corrupt targeting practices.

A recent survey indicates that the majority of Danish drivers would not consume any alcohol at all before driving if the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit was reduced to 0.2 mg/ml. Approximately 61% of 1,000 respondents said that they would abstain when driving if this limit was introduced, compared to 15% at the current limit of 0.5 mg/ml, and 69% of those polled also expressed support for a lower BAC limit.

Rejected. The British broadcast review body ClearCast has rejected a television advertisement for the beer Spitfire Ale, after it concluded the commercial’s content was “likely to cause offence” to the UK's Polish community. The commercial features two popular comedians dressed in World War II-era Royal Air Force uniforms, whose interactions with a character styled after a Polish general allegedly reinforce stereotypes of Polish immigrants and disparage the contributions of Poles to the Allied war effort. 

Military-themed alcohol marketing is also under review in Canada. National Defense has issued new guidelines to govern the production and sale of commemorative beer, wine, and spirits for military anniversary celebrations in 2014, amid concerns about copyright and liability issues. The guidelines stipulate that associations request permission to use regimental logos, that only established breweries produce products, and that sales of the commemorative alcohol beverages are limited to individuals in the military. 

And finally,

Sweet. The Ohio State Senate is considering budget provisions that would officially legalise so-called Jell-O shots and other candies containing alcohol in the state. Under the provisions, the Department of Liquor Control would regulate the products. Supporters contend the state is at an economic disadvantage by not having such products manufactured and sold in Ohio.

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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