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Feb 23 '22, 9:00 AM - 1:30 PM

Alcohol taxes save lives: WHO Europe symposium and launch of a new regional initiative


23 February 2022


09:00–13:30 CET


Vilnius, Lithuania and Zoom platform (hybrid in-person and virtual event)

Signature Initiative on alcohol tax

Alcohol is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, alongside tobacco, asbestos and radiation, and is known to cause many noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Nevertheless, in the WHO European Region, alcohol is normalized and far less regulated than tobacco or any other psychoactive substance.

To present new evidence on how Member States could optimize alcohol pricing policies, WHO/Europe will launch its NCD Advisory Council Signature Initiative on alcohol tax during a symposium in Vilnius, Lithuania. The main idea of the Signature Initiative is to promote a minimum tax share in prices of alcoholic beverages – a measure that is already in place for the tobacco market and has shown to be effective in lowering rates of death and disease.

The Signature Initiative emphasizes that raising alcohol tax will greatly benefit people’s health and the economy across the Region.

Presentation of new research data on alcohol

The Signature Initiative launch will be followed by a presentation of new data on the health and economic impact of alcohol consumption from the following projects:

  • a WHO modelling study that identifies how many lives could be saved in the Region by introducing a minimum of 15% tax in retail prices of alcoholic beverages and by ensuring that the same amount of pure alcohol costs the same, irrespective of the beverage type; and
  • research carried out by the international project “Evaluation of the impact of alcohol control policies on morbidity and mortality in Lithuania and other Baltic states”, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the United States of America to investigate the effects of alcohol policies implemented in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and their impact on mortality.

High-level discussion

At the symposium, high-level representatives from Member States, the European Commission and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development will discuss the emerging evidence and how WHO-recommended measures and quality data can inform public health policies at national, regional and global levels.

How to register

The WHO symposium in Vilnius is free and open for registration. The launch of the Signature Initiative can also be attended online via a webinar. Please use the link below to gain access.

Register here.