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.

Visibility. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç has criticised the visibility of beverage alcohol consumption in Turkish television programmes and asserted that viewers were likely to imitate the behaviours of characters in their favourite series. He suggested that “Rather than prohibition and penalisation, audio-visual media should be more sensitive and take into account the sensibilities of society without commercial considerations,” but did note that he would support regulatory restrictions “if society demands” such measures.

Catalonian media regulators have taken another position on extreme alcohol consumption on television. Officials are expected to impose an age-restricted rating for the US reality television show 'Jersey Shore', on the grounds that it presents harmful drinking in a positive light. Officials plan to amend the show’s rating to “not recommended for children under 18 years”, which would prevent it being broadcast between 0600 and 2200.

Taxed. France’s Senate Social Affairs Committee is reviewing a proposal that would introduce a “behavioural” tax on wine as part of a mission to evaluate “the pertinence and effectiveness” of taxation as a method of behaviour modification for health-related risks. Senators opposing the proposal expressed concern that increasing tax on wine could send a negative message about wine consumption, and cautioned against linking health issues with moderate consumption.

Hungarian Government officials’ efforts to address health concerns through taxation have been called into question by the European Commission (EC). EC began infringement proceedings against Hungary at the end of April, contending that Hungary’s use of two tax rates for alcohol products, placing so-called “consumer” alcohol beverages with artificial flavours under a different tax rate than other alcohol beverages due to health-related concerns about the products, is in violation of EU regulations. Hungarian officials have plans to go before the European Court of Justice if the proceedings continue.

Highway. In India, Maharashtra officials have plans to move 4,500 of the 12,000 bars currently located along state and national highways as part of efforts to reduce drink-driving fatalities. An excise official said that bars within a 37.5-metre radius of a highway would be moved, but that the move would not apply to liquor stores or bars within municipal council area limits.

The Texas House of Representatives is considering a different method to reduce drink-driving. Legislation is under review that would publicise the names of people who have more than three drink-driving arrests. The names of the offenders would be posted on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website and be part of public records for ten years, then removed if offenders have committed no further drink-driving violations.

Road safety. Marking the launch of the UN Global Road Safety Week, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the International Center for Alcohol Policies hosted the “Regional Perspectives on Drinking and Driving” symposium on alcohol-related impacts on vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. The symposium took place just two months after the launch of the WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety. UNECE transport division director Eva Molnar said: “We are pleased to host these United Nations Global Road Safety Week events with partners and experts from around the world. The UN Decade for Road Safety, 2011-2020, presents an opportunity for all stakeholders to reaffirm their commitment to saving lives.”

ICAP senior VP Brett Bivans noted the symposium’s highlighting of the ongoing value of engaging in partnerships with stakeholders from governments, civil society, and the private sector to support global road safety. As part of efforts to address drink driving, Global Actions continues its commitment to road safety through plans to assess then replicate successful drink-driving interventions in six low- and middle-income countries over the next five years.

Partnerships. Kenyan government officials have outlined plans to develop partnerships with county governments to build local chang’aa distilleries to provide low income individuals with safe and affordable spirits that meet government quality regulations. The plans are part of efforts to reduce incidents of poisoning from home brewing chang’aa.

Malaysian health official Dr. Jerip Susil has recommended a different method of addressing illegal alcohol production and called for the creation of a database of the state’s illicit alcohol producers to help reduce harmful drinking. Noting that some brewers have traditionally produced rice wine and spirits to supplement their incomes, Susil made recommendations to address the issue that would “provide them with an alternative for their income”, rather than law enforcement alone.

Branding. Use of the national flag in the marketing of alcohol beverages and other products is permissible in Poland. Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bogdan Zdrojewski said that, while the use of Poland’s national symbols for marketing is prohibited under legislation introduced in 1980, a provision allows for the use of “stylised or artistically-processed” renditions of the national flag for marketing purposes, and the use of the word “national” as an adjective in marketing or branding is also permitted. 

Swedish officials are reportedly not supportive of some heavy metal band imagery used in beer marketing. The launch of the beer 'Trooper', part of a branding partnership with the band Iron Maiden, has been suspended in Sweden. The suspension was announced after officials at alcohol retail monopoly Systembolaget deemed the product’s label design objectionable. A spokesperson called the issue a “commercial matter” to be discussed privately with the supplier.

Transport. In Germany, incoming Police Union national chairman Oliver Malchow is reportedly calling for a ban on all alcohol consumption on public transport. Malchow said that violent behaviour is often associated with excessive alcohol consumption, saying that cities such as Hamburg and some transport companies have observed positive results after introducing drinking bans on trains and reported a decrease in harassment of passengers and vandalism. 

Some officials in India also want to reduce passenger harassment by intoxicated people. Officers of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) have released plans to test New Delhi metro commuters to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels if they display signs of intoxication. Passengers found to be intoxicated will not be allowed to board metro trains. Those opposing the plan have expressed concern that incidents of drink-driving will increase if people cannot board public transportation while intoxicated.

Tourists. Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said that “bikinis are welcome in Egypt and booze is still being served”, and that rebuilding tourism was a national priority. In an effort to achieve tourism goals of 30m visitors and US$25bn in revenue by 2022, Zaazou said his ministry had installed cameras in major resorts to live stream video “to show people that Egypt is safe”.

However, just days before Zaazou’s statements, the Les Rois hotel in Hurghada, Egypt announced that it was banning alcohol sales and service as part of efforts to cater to its conservative Muslim clientele. As the number of Western tourists has decreased over the past two years, the hotel decided to focus on attracting visitors from Middle East countries by becoming alcohol-free.

And finally,

Expensive. China’s state press reports that some officials are holding “secret sauna parties” where they consume expensive alcohol from water bottles to disguise their contents, while the government implements austerity measures. President Xi Jinping has spoken out against luxury spending and said that corruption could lead to larger problems within the Communist party.

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.

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