Responsible drinking issues around the world - The IARD Digest - July 2017

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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

  • Greece - Government to abolish controversial wine tax

The Ministry of Agricultural Development & Food (MINAGRIC) has announced plans to repeal the Greek Government's special consumption tax on beverage alcohol, which precipitated a sharp decline in wine sales and the widespread production of unrecorded bulk wine following its introduction in 2015. Minister of Agricultural Development & Food Evangelos Apostolou asserted that withdrawing the controversial tax was "a priority for the [MINAGRIC]'s strategic plan to support Greek viticulture and wine making", noting that wine is the country's leading source of revenue from exports.

  • Ireland - Government mulls tax rebate for publicans providing a transport service for patrons

The Government of Ireland is considering the introduction of tax rebates and other measures for licensed premises that provide transport home for their patrons at the end of the night. Minister of State for Tourism & Sport Brendan Griffin confirmed that he is considering the subsidised transport measure ahead of the budget for licensees. The intention would be to mitigate the impact on rural pubs of controversial draft legislation that would strengthen the penalties for some first-time drink-driving offenders. The hospitality sector and some lawmakers have strongly opposed the road safety bill, which would close a loophole allowing first-time offenders apprehended with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level between 0.5 mg/ml and 0.8 mg/ml to opt for three driving licence penalty points and a fine rather than a licence suspension. Such a move, opponents say, would deter many people in rural communities from using their nearest pub.

  • Poland - Ministry of Finance looks to impose severe penalties for outlets trading in unrecorded alcohol

Poland's Ministry of Finance (MF) has proposed that alcohol vendors found to have been trading in unrecorded alcohol at any time will immediately have their beverage alcohol sales licences revoked, with the intention of deterring the country's PLN1bn  (US$274m) per year unrecorded alcohol market. Tax inspectors will conduct random inspections of retailers, restaurants, and bars, and will also respond to tipoffs from the public. Offending businesses would be reported to municipal authorities and be deprived of their licences for at least three years. MF officials asserted that municipal authorities currently only revoke licences as a last resort, as the legislation on the process is unclear. More commonly, a maximum fine of PLN2,000 is imposed for the distribution of unrecorded alcohol.

  • India - Supreme Court hears appeals on alcohol sales ban near national highways

The Supreme Court (SC) has been hearing individual petitions from various state governments appealing its controversial ruling prohibiting beverage alcohol retailers from operating within 500 metres of national and state highways. The SC decided to review the ruling following mass submissions of appeals calling for modifications, but chose only to consider applications from state governments as it would not be possible to process the thousands that it had received in total. Several state governments began reclassifying state highways that pass through urban areas as city roads in order to circumvent the SC ruling and prevent forced closures of retailers located along highways. At the same time, many vendors have relocated the entrance to their premises past the 500-metre limit in order to achieve the same objective without physically relocating.

  • Italy - Anti-alcohol ordinance is a flop in Rome

The State Police has reported poor compliance with a Rome city ordinance prohibiting retail beverage alcohol sales after 2:00 am and take-away sales from licensed premises after 10:00 pm in most of the city's neighbourhoods. Although details of the ordinance had been made available in four languages on the municipal authority's website, around 65% of inspected venues were unaware of its existence. During weekend inspections, police officers also discovered that the majority of nightlife patrons were also unaware of the ordinance, which was intended to deter excessive consumption and anti-social behaviour.

  • France - Highway Traffic Act amendments had already been made

The Delegation for Road Safety (DSR) has issued a statement to refute erroneous claims of amendments to France's 'Highway Code' that were recently circulated by certain media outlets and on social media. A widely-speculated change to the legal BAC limit for novice drivers is actually already in place, the Government having introduced a BAC limit of 0.2 mg/ml for novice drivers in 2015. The DSR stated that the only amendment that actually took effect on 1 July was a change to the regulations on licence plates for two- and three- wheeled vehicles.

  • Mexico - Government, trade association team up to fight informal alcohol sales

The Federal Office of the Consumer (PROFECO) and the Commission for the Wine & Distilled Spirits Industry (CIVyL) have agreed to conduct joint actions intended to protect Mexican consumers from unrecorded alcohol. CIVyL data indicates that approximately 153m litres of unrecorded alcohol are sold every year through the black market. PROFECO acting prosecutor Rafael Ochoa Morales and CIVyL director general Gerardo Ancira recently agreed at a working meeting that the two organisations would collaborate to prevent unrecorded alcohol from being served in licensed premises. PROFECO will receive information from the trade association to help refine its monitoring and prevention activities against alcohol that does not comply with Mexican Official Norms standards or poses a health risk to the public, focusing on so-called 'free bar' or 'all-inclusive' venue promotions, and sales of alcohol to under-age youth.

  • Czech Republic - Police to inspect bars and events for sales to children

Approximately 1,500 police officers will conduct undercover inspections of licensed premises this summer, to test their compliance with the legal purchase age for alcohol. Officers apprehended 395 intoxicated youth during the previous iteration of the annual campaign. The Hazard, Alcohol & Children (HAD) campaign will run between July and September.

  • New Zealand - Newspaper names and shames every drink-driving offender in tourist "party town"

Queenstown-based paper Mountain Scene has published the names of 100 convicted drink-driving offenders in response to a drink-driving "epidemic" in the town. A Mountain Scene spokesperson attributed Queenstown's relatively high drink-drinking rate to several factors, including a rapidly-expanding, youth-heavy population, prohibitively expensive taxi fares and the town's reputation as a so-called "party town" that attracts an estimated 2m tourists annually. The newspaper's readership has been split by the campaign, alternately citing intrusiveness and the potential for prevention. The editor has said the paper will continue to "take a stand" against the "horrendous levels of drink-driving here … that has always been in the background".

  • Tanzania - Governmentt offers respite to distillers

The Government of Tanzania has announced that it will allow beverage alcohol producers to repackage confiscated distilled spirits in plastic sachets, following the recent enactment of a ban on these products. Minister for Industry, Trade & Investment Charles Mwijage stated that the repackaging process would have to be conducted "under strict supervision" in order to ensure that none of the impounded sachet drinks were simply resold in their existing packaging. The government ban was intended to prevent harmful drinking among under-age youth and reduce roadside littering. To date, the authorities have seized 32,634 cartons of spirits in plastic sachets worth TZS5bn (US$2.2m).

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