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Responsible drinking issues around the world - The IARD Digest - February 2019

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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 more responsible role for alcohol in society.

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

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

The Czech Republic's Union of Manufacturers & Importers of Spirits and drug prevention NGO Sananim are celebrating ten years of their joint 'Let's Talk About Alcohol' initiative, which has connected with around 100,000 13-year-old students in the country. The programme provides youths with information about alcohol, the risks associated with consumption and answers questions that they are interested in. Students are informed about the effects and risks of consuming alcohol and how to administer first aid to seriously intoxicated persons.

A Sananim spokesperson said that the partners "do not try to save the whole world,".

"Our goals are simple: We want to make sure that children who decide to experiment with alcohol - and a lot of them do - do so with a sense of reason, face only the smallest consequences … and, in the worst case [scenario], do not die."

Pernod Ricard is also celebrating ten years of its joint educational initiative with the Erasmus Student Network's (ESN) European Union-wide 'Responsible Party' activation. Campaign ambassadors have travelled across the EU for more than a decade to visit student parties with information about harmful drinking, as well as offering young revellers food or water and helping them to get driven home safely.

Pernod CEO Alex Ricard recently spoke about the initiative at a high-level EURACTIV forum on promoting responsibility and health for Europe's students. Ricard told the audience that "information is power" when it comes to prevention and that information and awareness campaigns are far more effective than increasing taxes or regulation.

Lion Breweries' 'Alcohol & Me' prevention programme recently commissioned a nationwide public awareness survey in New Zealand, finding that three-quarters of respondents were unsure of what a standard drink is, or what the responsible consumption guidelines recommend. Only 17% could correctly identify the legal BAC limit and, while 11% correctly answered that there are a number of factors that contribute to a driver's BAC level, most named a number of drinks that they thought they personally could drink and still be able to drive safely.

However, one-quarter also agreed that they plan to reduce their consumption level in 2019, and one-fifth planned to drink low-abv drinks as part of this. Almost two-fifths said that they already consume low-ABV drinks weekly or monthly, 45% of whom said that this was to avoid becoming intoxicated. A campaign spokesperson said that the survey "highlights there is a real opportunity to educate Kiwis in a way that resonates".

"Connecting with others has never been more important as lives get busier, so it's not about encouraging people to stop drinking or getting them to steer away from the pub. We want to help Kiwis to understand what they're drinking so they can make the good times last longer when they are socialising. Knowing what a standard drink is, is crucial to this."

In Belgium, Anheuser-Busch InBev has announced another unexpected benefit of the increasing popularity of low-abv and alcohol-free drinks, with a new programme to convert the alcohol extracted from these drinks into biofuel. Yleni De Neve, A-B InBev's European environment manager, confirmed that the brewer's arrangement with a biofuel producer would see 1m litres of residual 'lost alcohol' converted by June, rather than being treated as a waste product. A-B InBev's aim is "to no longer have alcohol waste in the long term," according to De Neve. "We want to use as much as possible in the circular economy. We also want to show other brewers and industries that a sustainable economy is the only right future."

Guinness has launched a surprise responsibility initiative in the UK, to mark the beginning of the Six Nations rugby tournament, which it now sponsors. The brand released a TV ad showing male rugby fans in the pub exaggeratedly enjoying new Guinness Clear, otherwise known as water.

The ad is intended to make sports fans more comfortable with the idea of ordering a glass of water in the pub, rather than solely drinking alcohol, and to encourage consumers to stay hydrated. 

In Nigeria, the brewer has taken a different tack to promote responsible drinking by running awareness campaigns in parallel with community development initiatives promoting economic development and better societyGuinness Nigeria is promoting the Diageo and United Nations Institute for Training & Research (UNITAR) partnership, which recently held the UNITAR Road Safety Conference in Abuja.

Minister for Transport Rotimi Amaechi, UNITAR executive director Nikhil Seth and Guinness Nigeria MD Baker Magunda were joined by hundreds of local and international experts and stakeholders. Participants discussed major road safety plans for Nigeria and the rest of the world, including the partners' new collaboration with the federal government in Lagos. Federal Road Safety Corps officers trained in implementing breath-testing checkpoints are using a model designed by prominent expert Othon Sanchez, whose programme achieved a 40% reduction in drink-driving in Mexico City.

Meanwhile, in South Africa, Heineken has taken a more community-oriented approach by providing 500 survivors of a shack fire with food hampers. The informal Greenville community in Alexandra, Johannesburg was devastated by the fire at the end of last year. Heineken South Africa corporate affairs director Millicent Maroga said that through the '#RememberAlex' campaign, "we aim to re-assure and remind the community of Alexandra that they are not forgotten."

Maroga also confirmed that the emergency assistance is not intended as a one-off, as Heineken's "ambition is to devise a more sustainable programme to help communities who are devastated by fires".

Finally, in Russia, the Kemerovo Regional Clinical Drug Dispensary has become the first medical organisation in the country to join the 'Auto-Sobriety' drink-driving prevention initiative. Moscow Automobile & Road State Technical University (MADI) developed the initiative, supported by the IARD, which informs and educates learner and inexperienced drivers about the risks of drink-driving, in line with the principles of the WHO Global Strategy for Reducing the Harmful Use of Alcohol.

Driving schools around the country have implemented the programme, which has been approved by the ministries of the interior, health and education. The medical association is now providing educational courses for drink-driving offenders with suspended driving licenses.

For further details on The IARD, click here.


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