Round-Up -The ICAP Digest - August

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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.


National wine. China’s Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce has reported that a trademark application by Moutai to be called the “national wine” has passed the first review. An alcohol industry analyst said that, if Moutai was granted the trademark, other alcohol producers would be unable to use “national” on their products.

Other countries remain active on similar fronts. In Switzerland, the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOA) has confirmed that, under the country’s Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), distilled spirit names 'La Bleue', 'Absinthe', and 'Fee Verte' may only be used if the spirit is produced in part in Val de Travers. France, Austria, Germany, and the US have raised 20 objections to the PGI name restrictions, however, none have been upheld.

Self-imposed. The Lithuanian Brewers Guild (LAG) has decided to adopt a self-imposed ban on Guild members’ alcohol-free beer and cider advertisements on television before 2200 hours. Current Lithuanian law permits alcohol producers’ brand extension ads for alcohol-free beverage products, which may be broadcast during the day.

Self-regulation of advertising, as well as drink-driving and non-commercial alcohol, are the three areas of focus for ICAP's Global Actions on Harmful Drinking. Since 2010, 11 more countries have joined the ranks of nations with new self-regulatory codes or co-regulatory arrangements, including China, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Banned. The Thai Prime Minister’s Office has announced a ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in state-run enterprises and government offices, including transit, lottery, and tourism authorities. Violations could result in six months imprisonment and a fine of up to THB10,000 (US$320).

Earlier this August, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra announced additional restrictions under the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act of 2008 to reduce alcohol-related harm and improve safety in factories. The measures prohibit individuals from consuming beverage alcohol in vehicles and ban alcohol sales and consumption in factories.

Legitimate. The legitimate alcohol market in Lithuania declined by almost 1% during the first half of 2012, bringing the overall decline since 2007 to 41% for distilled spirits sales and 22% for total legitimate alcohol consumption. Most Lithuanian producers are reportedly operating at a loss, and the 41% drop is being attributed to an increase in illicit alcohol trade.

In addition to losses in revenue, restrictive policies and regulations on alcohol, including high taxes or curtailed availability, have been reported to contribute to unintended consequences such as increases in illicit production and sales. Consumers may purchase home-produced, black market smuggled and counterfeit, or otherwise unregulated alcohol within their own country, or purchase alcohol in neighbouring countries with lower tax rates. A drop in the purchase and consumption of legal beverages also represents a significant decrease for government revenue from tariffs and taxes.

Migration. Indonesia’s Health Ministry had a week of drug and alcohol screenings on public transportation drivers as part of a road safety campaign leading up to the mudik public migration at the end of Ramadan. Inspectors tested drivers at all of Jakarta’s main bus terminals, classifying them as “fit to travel, fit but with concerns, or unfit.” 

Indonesia’s neighbour Malaysia has been examining public transport as well. The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations' (FOMCA) president, Datuk Marimthu, recently stated that bus drivers should have regular medical checks to ensure that they have not consumed alcohol or taken drugs before getting behind the wheel. FOMCA also suggested that bus owners increase salaries and benefits for drivers with attention to driver health.

Substandard. In a recent survey, 27% of Russians have reported consuming low-quality alcohol during the last year. Vodka was most commonly reported as having been substandard, followed by beer and wine. Approximately 52% of respondents stated that they had not consumed poor-quality or counterfeit alcohol and 21% were unsure.

Surveys have found that in rural areas of Russia, the majority of the populations preferred home-produced distilled spirits (samogon) to state-produced vodka. High prices and taxes on legal alcohol beverages in Russia have long fostered a thriving market in unrecorded and illegal alcohol.

Multilingual. Ukrainian brewery trade association Ukrpivo has expressed concern about draft legislation that would require all consumer information on products be displayed in both the national language and one of Ukraine’s 18 regional languages. According to Ukrpivo, this could lead to producers having to make different labels for areas as small as a single village.

Making consumer information more broadly and easily accessible will be the focus of one of the pledges expected to be made by the CEOs of leading alcohol producers worldwide.  These commitments will be announced at the upcoming international conference Global Actions: Initiatives to Reduce Harmful Drinking in Washington, D.C. on 8-9 October. Additionally, the CEO pledges will focus on preventing and reducing underage drinking, strengthening and expanding marketing codes of practice, making responsible product innovations, discouraging and reducing drink driving and enrolling the support of retailers to reduce harmful drinking.

And finally…

Revival. Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) province has seen an increase in locally-brewed alcohol sales and production, a development attributed to the “waning” influence of the militant group Lashker-e-Islam. The group had previously banned locally-brewed spirit 'tharra' in large markets, and closed retail outlets that sold local and foreign alcohol.

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 organization in Special Consultative Status.

Click here to learn more about ICAP.

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