Every month, the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking looks at responsible drinking measures around the world

Every month, the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking looks at responsible drinking measures around the world

Once a month, the drinks industry-funded International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, which covers alcohol policies worldwide, looks at what's going on in-market to promote a responsible role for alcohol in society.

  • European Union – Estonian Health Minister encourages new alcohol strategy

Minister of Health & Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski has warned that the EU needs to draft and implement a new EU Alcohol Strategy, to address matters such as cross-border trade and whether taxation on wine should be dependent on abv in the same way that beer is. Ossinovski observed that while the European Commission (EC) hasn't agreed to update the previous strategy that ran between 2006 and 2012, "all EU health ministers have addressed the topic" of drafting and implementing a new strategy. The minister also noted that EU Member States should work internally to implement their own healthcare policies to address their country's alcohol-related issues, but argued that "if every Member State would protect its health from harmful factors", then this would aid consensus on related topics that are regulated at the EU-level, such as mandatory standard health warning labels and alcohol excise duty implementation. Ossinovski also said that EU lawmakers need to address the issue of personal imports of alcohol across member states' borders, noting that differing excise rates in some neighbouring countries were encouraging abuse of the system in some countries.

  • Indonesia – House of Representatives considers banning alcohol ads

The House of Representatives in Indonesia is considering draft legislation that would prohibit television and radio advertisements for alcohol beverages and tobacco products. A National Commission on Tobacco Control (Komnas PT) source said that the "progressive" amendments to "Law No. 32 of 2002 Concerning Broadcasting" conform to "the Health Law and several Constitutional Court rulings", asserting that "the bill must be secured in its deliberation process until it is passed", as it is in keeping with the House's tendencies on tobacco control and promoting public health.

  • Russia – Government proposes price rise for products containing alcohol

The Government of Russia has commissioned a report on the viability of introducing a new pricing policy for consumer products containing alcohol. The proposals would prompt the reduction of prices for alcoholic beverages while the price of tinctures, medicinal products and domestic products containing alcohol would be increased. L!FE reports that the policy is intended to address the widespread consumption of inexpensive consumer goods containing alcohol as a surrogate for beverage alcohol, and that the proposals follow the recently-reported deaths of at least 76 people in Siberia caused by the consumption of an inexpensive alcohol-containing bath lotion. The Government had scheduled an increase in excise duties on alcohol beverages for the beginning of 2017 before the events in Siberia were reported. The Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry were due to submit their proposals on the issue to the Government earlier this week.

  • Hungary – Domestic winemakers ask Government for protection

The Association for Grape Growers in Hungary has presented a proposal signed by the country's winemakers calling on the Government to protect domestic winemakers from being undercut by widespread imports of inexpensive wine from Italy, which could potentially be counterfeit. According to 24.hu, the proposals also include a demand that legal protection be provided to smaller, family-run vineyards against larger wine producers, and called for the application of the Austrian model, in which a country only imports wine if domestic production does not meet consumer demand. The Association for Grape Growers has warned it will hold additional protests if the Government does not address its concerns.

  • Moldova – Ministry of Health looks to reclassify beer

The Ministry of Health in Moldova is drafting legislation that would reclassify beer and beer-based beverages as beverage alcohol. The proposal would effectively increase restrictions on the labelling and marketing of these products to be in line with other alcohol beverages. RTR Moldova reports that the changes would be part of a wider policy of reducing general consumption through legislative change, and that the Ministry's legislative package would also include new information, nutritional and abv labelling requirements, and significantly more stringent restrictions on the content and placement of advertising. The Ministry has launched a public consultation on the proposed changes.

  • Uruguay – Unasev reports decrease in drink-driving

The National Road Safety Unit (Unasev) has announced in its preliminary annual report that the low amount of Uruguayan drivers apprehended with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level above the legal limit in 2016 is "evidence of a decrease in drink-driving" since a zero BAC limit was set in place in 2015. El Observador reported, however, that the difference in offending rates between 2015 and 2016 was only half a percentage point, with 6.8% and 6.3% of drivers testing positive for alcohol consumption during the two years, respectively. Unasev president Gerardo Barrios asserted that the slight decrease was nevertheless an advancement, as the amount of drivers apprehended with a BAC level above zero has dropped by one-third since 2008. Barrios noted that there is still a "critical" period on the weekends when drink-driving is much more prevalent than on weekdays. According to the General Tax Directorate (DGI), alcohol beverage sales decreased by 16.9%, 17%, and 8.5% for domestic and imported beer, whiskey, and wine, respectively, between January and September last year, following the lowering of the legal BAC limit.

  • Ireland – Minister for Transport considering stricter road traffic legislation

The Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross, is considering the introduction of legislation that would set more stringent penalties for drink-driving, citing statistics indicating that there were 187 deaths in road traffic crashes in Ireland last year, compared to 162 crash fatalities in 2015. Ross said that while the new 'Road Traffic Bill' has started to reduce fatalities, "if drunk-driving continues, we will have to look at dramatic ways to tackle it". He also noted that drink-driving is mainly an issue for younger male drivers. Ross told the Irish Examiner that he is considering reducing the legal BAC limit from 0.5 mg/ml to 0.2 mg/ml, which is the level for professional and novice drivers.

  • Greece – Wine producers question effectiveness of govt's special consumption tax

The National Interprofessional Organization of Vine & Wine of Greece recently held a press conference addressing the Government's special consumption tax on beverage alcohol (EFKOP), which was introduced in 2015 to increase revenues to balance a period of poor economic outlook. The tax has led instead to a sharp decline in wine sales and the widespread production of unrecorded bulk wine. Central Cooperative Union of Vine & Wine Products president Giannis Vogiatzis asserted that "the excise tax has ultimately acted as a punishment for those who want to do business legally," with experts estimating that approximately 65% of the wine consumed in Greece is produced, sold, and distributed illegally. Greek Wine Federation president George Skouras speculated that the introduction of the alcohol excise tax has created an incentive for illegal alcohol producers to become "highly organised", with the national wine market giving way to an unrecorded alcohol market run by "big players". Skouras added that the country's alcohol producers were unhappy that the Government did not collaborate with them on the plans to introduce the alcohol excise tax, arguing that cooperation between producers and officials could have resulted in a more efficient implementation.

  • India – Supreme Court bans liquor shops on highways

The Supreme Court (SC) has ruled to prohibit the sale of alcohol beverages on state and national highways in an attempt to address the increasing rates of fatal road traffic crashes. Taking effect from April, the decree is in response to a public interest litigation filed by road safety NGO Arrive Safe, which claimed that the availability of alcohol on highways had increased drink-driving, a contributing factor to a significant proportion of the country's 1.42m road traffic crash fatalities every year. The SC stated that the delay in implementation was to ensure all outlets were closed, adding that no alcohol sales licenses for vendors located on highways will be renewed after this point.

  • South Africa – Minister of Transport calls for tougher legislation

Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters has called for drink-driving to be reclassified from a 'schedule three' offence to a more severe schedule five, confirming that the Ministry is in talks with the Justice Department regarding the issue. South African Police Service traffic officers apprehended approximately 6,000 drink-driving offenders during the recent festive period, and there were more than 1,700 road traffic crash fatalities nation-wide during this time frame. The Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) published controversial draft legislation in 2016 that would tighten regulations on the production and sale of beverage alcohol, including increasing the legal purchase age from 18 to 21 years old, introducing more stringent restrictions on alcohol advertising and civil liability for vendors and producers when intoxicated persons go on to commit crimes or cause road traffic crashes. The DTI's public consultation on the bill is ongoing.

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