Round-Up - The ICAP Digest - September 2014

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Once a month, the International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP), which covers alcohol policies worldwide, looks at what's going on in-market to promote a responsible role for alcohol in society.

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

Online. The Ministry of Income and Tax has announced that online alcohol sales are not permitted in Ukraine due to the physical retail requirements for alcohol such as minimum premises size, appropriate trade equipment, and health and safety requirements. Retailers are also required to use physical registers for cash handling and storage, and since online retailers do not necessarily meet these requirements, alcohol sales are “contrary to applicable law.”

In Russia, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has announced that the Government may partially lift restrictions on online alcohol sales, beginning with wine. Such distance sales were prohibited in 2007, but Medvedev said that government agencies are studying the issue further. A spokesperson for the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office said that distance sales of other alcohol beverages may be permitted after the initial easing of restrictions on wine sales. 

Direct. In Sweden, the Farmers’ Association has filed a complaint with the European Commission against current regulations that do not permit direct sales of wine from wine-producing farms. Supporters of state alcohol retailer Systembolaget argue that such farm sales potentially threaten the viability of the state’s monopoly.

The Governments of British Columbia and Saskatchewan recently approved a trade agreement that will allow consumers in either Canadian province to order craft beer and wine directly from craft producers. Scheduled to take effect in June 2015, the agreement will grant B.C. craft breweries and wineries access to the Saskatchewan market and allow consumers to circumvent the B.C.-operated alcohol retail monopoly.

Verified. Bermuda Premier Michael Dunkley announced new legislative amendments requiring licensed premises in Bermuda to request age-verifying identification from patrons. Dunkley also launched the initiative “No Alcohol Under 18 – We Card,” and said that the new measure was supported by licensees and affected businesses had trained their staffs on the new regulations.

Belarus’ Ministry of the Interior has drafted legislation introducing more stringent penalties to prevent underage consumption. A ministry spokesperson said that parents of underage youth found drinking would face administrative penalties, while traders and businesses serving youth alcohol could face criminal charges and other sanctions. 

Labels. The Thai Government is considering introducing regulations requiring graphic health warning labels on alcohol beverages as a special order rather than legislation. The regulation is one of four pieces of alcohol-related legislation being drafted by the Public Health Ministry, and would require at least 25% of a beverage’s label to be a warning image and message. If processed as a special order, the regulation would enter into law with immediate effect.

In an op-ed piece, ICAP deputy president Marjana Martinic comments on the Thai Government proposal for graphic warning labels, writing that the sensationalist policy is intended to deter consumers with large images that are not only “fundamentally misleading,” but of unproven effectiveness. Martinic continues that improved results could be achieved by pursuing long-term health policies and maintaining strong enforcement in targeted areas, such as drink driving and underage consumption. 

Packaged. Malawi-based non-governmental organisations recently submitted a petition calling on lawmakers to “completely ban” the production and sale of alcohol beverages packaged in plastic sachets due to quality and underage consumption concerns. National Assembly Legal Affairs Committee Chair Peter Chakhwantha said his committee would work to develop appropriate legislation to regulate the production and accessibility of alcohol sachets.

The Russian Government has its own packaging concerns and has plans to enact restrictions on alcohol packaged in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers due to potential leaching from plastic bottles into beverages. Russian government officials, market observers, and trade association representatives in Khabarovsk Krai have cautioned that the restrictions would significantly reduce tax revenue and result in decreased beer production and job losses in multiple industries.

Buffer. Community leaders have asked officials in Beltrami County, Minnesota to establish an alcohol licensing “buffer zone” around the Red Lake Indian Reservation, where alcohol is prohibited. The request was made in response to a liquor licence application submitted to the county board of commissioners by a nearby resort, which has drawn public opposition from members of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe who expressed concern about a history of alcohol dependence on the reservation. 

In New Zealand, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira has proposed licensing reforms to reduce harm related to alcohol misuse and gambling in vulnerable communities, particularly those with significant Maori or Pasifika populations. The lawmaker proposed temporarily closing off-premise alcohol retailers and slot machines located in pubs and clubs, and granting local communities the authority to determine where and when such facilities and machines could operate.

New tech. Police in Sweden are introducing electronic road gates that require completion of an alcohol breath test before being allowed to continue driving. Tests administered while detained by the “alcogates” can be completed in around 1.5 seconds, and drivers who register a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit will be blocked until police can investigate further.

Finland’s National Police Board will now begin using new breath-testing equipment, which has been unavailable for use since it was acquired five years ago. National Institute for Health & Welfare and police spokespersons confirmed that the delay was caused by separate technical systems issues attributed to the Swedish manufacturer and the police.

Timing. In India, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has asked officials not to grant any new bar licences allowing alcohol service after 0100. Parrikar mentioned his request during a meeting with a delegation of women’s organisations leading the “Roll Back Bar Timing Campaign,” who criticised the recent decision to extend permissible trading hours to 0400. 

Guam Senator Aline Yamashita has introduced draft legislation that would extend the hours of service for alcohol beverages from 0200 to 0400, but only for venues with live entertainment. Yamashita said that the amendments will help local musicians and entertainers with the rising cost of living and operating expenses.

And finally,

Education. Approximately 90% of youth polled in a recent UK survey said they were in favour of alcohol education being included in the country's national curriculum for schools. 1,000 respondents between 16- and 24-years-old were polled for the health and lifestyle survey, which also revealed that 55% of respondents believe that extreme drinking reportage is exaggerated by the UK media.

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