Poland: Government Plans to Raise Alcohol Tax
The Polish government has unveiled plans to increase the excise tax on alcohol next year. The designed tax increase was announced in a strategic document, the Multi-year State Financial Plan for the years 2019 – 2022. The plan was recently published by the country’s Ministry of Finance.
Alcohol harm and policy in Poland: urgent need for more action
Poland has an increasing alcohol problem. WHO reports the per capita consumption of alcohol in Poland to be 11.6 liters, which is significantly higher comparative to the WHO European region. Further data shows an increasing trend for alcohol use in the country. Among alcohol consumers only, per capita alcohol use of Polish men is extremely high and 17.1 liters for men and women also indicates the heavy alcohol use in the country.
About 68% of the Polish population consume alcohol. More than half of these alcohol users binge on alcohol. Youth alcohol use is also a growing issue in the country where the majority of youth alcohol users between 15 to 19 years (63.5%) binge on the substance. This is specifically concerning as this group involves minors despite the legal age for alcohol use being 18 years.
The health consequences are staggering, placing Poland at the high end for years of life lost due to alcohol. For Polish men the alcohol harm is even greater.
For men in Poland alcohol is attributed to,
- 78.1% deaths from liver cirrhosis
- 48.1% deaths from road traffic injuries
- 8.2% deaths from cancer
A staggering 22.7% of Polish men suffer from alcohol use disorders, with 4.1% suffering from alcohol dependence. Both the statistics are higher than the WHO average of the European region.
In this view, the planned excise tax increase in Poland is urgently needed to curb the growing alcohol harm in the country. The WHO has recommended increasing alcohol taxes as a proven effective policy measure in alcohol control. Scientific evidence from around the world suggests that alcohol tax increases successfully tackles youth binge alcohol use, DUI crashes, and helps to achieve the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Developemnt.
Poland can further benefit from implementing a national plan for alcohol control and a monitoring mechanism for more effective implementation of existing laws.