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.

Detention. Colombia’s Senate is considering draft legislation introducing a mandatory detention of 24 hours for all drink driving offenders. First-time offenders would also face a financial penalty equal to 25% of the value of their vehicles, while second-time offenders will face a fine equal to 50% of the value of their vehicle and the mandatory signing of a commitment against re-offending. 

In South Australia, the Full Court of the Supreme Court has reinstated the state government’s Forfeiture Act, which allows police officers to seize the vehicles of drivers charged with repeat drink driving offences. “This is a deterrent that removes the prized possession of those who continuously flout the road rules, placing the lives of other road users at risk,” said Police Minister Michael O’Brien. According to the state government, around 8,000 vehicles were clamped or impounded, 26 were sold, 178 destroyed, and six crushed in 2011-2012.

ABV. The Ministry of Justice has drafted legislation lifting Estonia’s prohibition on consuming beverages with a low abv in public places, except for in schools, hospitals, on public transport, and at events for underage youth. An Interior Ministry official said that members of the public not engaging in anti-social behavior should not be penalised for drinking beer peacefully in a park.

In the UK, meanwhile, Wakefield Council has approved a trial ban on the retail sale of beer and cider products with abvs greater than 6.5% in the surrounding areas. The council reportedly approved the ban due to high rates of excessive alcohol consumption among local youth, and the 25% of adults in the community consuming “at least twice the daily recommended amount in a single session”. The trial initiative is expected to be implemented through a voluntary retailer agreement in November, and will be reevaluated after 12 months.

Cooperation. ICAP has announced the release of an e-book on alcohol and road safety, Regional Perspectives on Preventing Alcohol-Related Road Crashes Involving Vulnerable Road Users, jointly-published with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The launch of the e-book, which can be viewed here, took place this week at the Palais des Nations in Geneva at a luncheon event co-hosted by ICAP and UNECE.

Road traffic injuries are among the three leading causes of death worldwide for people aged between 5 and 44, and the leading cause of death for young people 15 to 29 years old. Around 27% of all road traffic deaths occur among vulnerable road users including pedestrians and bicyclists. In low- and middle-income countries, this figure is closer to a third of all road deaths, and in some countries it is more than 75%. The UN Decade of Action for Road Safety calls for increased action at the national, regional, and global levels in service of the UN’s goal of stabilising, and then reducing, the forecast level of road traffic fatalities around the world.

“Brown Jug”. The Wisconsin Senate is considering a so-called “Brown Jug law,” that allows bar or retail outlet owners to take to court underage customers who knowingly purchase alcohol. If found guilty under the regulations, an underage customer would be required to pay the business owner US$1,000. Supporters believe the law will help businesses and reduce underage drinking.

Officials from Dabrowa Górnicza and Sosnowiec in Poland are addressing underage sales in their communities by launching the “sober youth” initiative and enlisting the support of local retailers. The project will be carried out concurrently in both cities with assistance from law enforcement agencies and the State Agency Prevention of Alcohol-Related Problems (PARPA). The campaign will reportedly incorporate increased police inspections, training exercises for retailers, social media activities coordinated by teenage volunteers, and the distribution of posters and pamphlets in point-of-sale environments.

Hazardous. Russian federal employment agency Rostrud is reportedly drafting legislation introducing mandatory daily sobriety tests for workers in hazardous positions. Rostrud has claimed that one-third of serious workplace accidents that result in serious injury or death are alcohol-related, and that the agency is proposing to introduce into law increased responsibility for employees who break with workplace regulations. 

In India, the Karnataka State Road Transportation Corporation has been addressing alcohol in the workplace with a different strategy, by conducting a 40-day alcohol rehabilitation programme for the company’s professional drivers, conductors, and mechanics. The programme, which has been implemented on a trial basis at a hospital in Bengaluru for 18 months, combines a detox regiment with daily yoga sessions and other activities, as well as counseling and medical lectures.

Moderation. According to new research, drinking wine in moderation may help to reduce the risk of incident depression. Researchers studied the association between alcohol intake and depression in 5,505 participants aged between 55 and 80 from the PREDIMED prospective study. They found that moderate alcohol intake of two to seven drinks per week, specifically wine, was significantly associated with lower rates of depression, although heavy drinking was associated with an increased risk.

Moderate drinkers who consume alcohol more frequently, including daily drinkers, have lower risks for many diseases than those whose drinking is less frequent. The relationship appears especially robust if drinking accompanies meals. Moderate drinking has also been found to increase cognitive abilities and functioning among some older individuals, and to enhance the general quality of life.

Micro. Belarus’ State Control Committee has proposed a reduced excise tax rate for brewers that produce no more than 10m decalitres annually. Other recommendations under consideration to promote the growth of the microbrewery sector include increased domestic production of malt varietals and the establishment of small-scale breweries in national parks and cultural centers.

In efforts to protect small British cider producers, the Liberal Democrat party members have called for a more restrictive definition of cider, in order to “exclude the mass-produced, lower quality products” from receiving the benefits of current low duty rates on cider. The minimum threshold for apple juice content that a product must meet to qualify as cider is currently 35%, and party officials contended that raising the threshold to 75% would require producers to improve product quality or pay the increased tax rates applied to wine products.

Zero. The South African Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said that the Government is planning several interventions to reduce the country’s relatively high rate of road traffic crashes, including reducing the BAC limit from 0.5 mg/ml to 0.2 mg/ml. Public transport drivers and drivers of heavy goods vehicles would also be subject to a zero BAC level under the planned amendments to the National Road Traffic Act.

Drink driving convictions among youth in New Zealand decreased by 22% in the year following the August 2011 implementation of a zero blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers under 20 years old. Ministry of Justice records show that 4,223 people under 20 years old were convicted of drink driving offenses in 2011-12, compared with 5,418 in the year prior.

And finally,

Patriotic. Thefts of alcohol beverages from retailers increased by around 97% during the month of September in Mexico, according to a recent study. The average age of those committing the thefts during Mexico’s month of Patriotic Holidays is 24 years old, 86% of whom are male, and approximately 92% of the distilled spirits stolen are tequila and 8% rum.

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.