Poland: Alcohol Use Increasing Problem
Alcohol use is an increasing problem in Poland.
According to the Polish State Agency for Prevention of Alcohol-Related Problems (PARPA), in 2018 the average Pole consumed over 11 liters of pure alcohol. In 2000 it was 8 liters, indicating a big increase from an already large amount.
In a discussion with alcohol policy expert Krzysztof Brzózka, the Super Express uncovers the alcohol problem in Poland.
As IOGT International reported previously, “Monkeys” – which are small liquor bottles containing flavoured hard liquor – are a huge part of the problem. Much of the sale of these small bottles happen in the morning. People can consume these throughout the day, like tea leading to all kinds of alcohol harm, including alcohol use disorder and addiction.
The discussion also covers other issues such as,
- Alcohol industry promotion of beer to women,
- The problems with the current alcohol control act as it encourages switching to weaker alcohol such as beer,
- Omnipresent alcohol advertising appealing to children, and
- Widespread availability of alcohol – as in the case of the “monkeys”.
Some myths busting
A common myth is that switching to weaker alcohol is better for reducing harm. But alcohol use disorders can begin also with weaker alcohol products, such as beer according to Krzysztof Brzózka.
Another problem in Poland is heavy advertising of alcohol which encourages children to initiate alcohol use. There is even candy with alcohol content available for sale with normal candy, which can confuse parents and children. All this creates the impressions that alcohol is normal.
Availability is also a strong factor driving increased alcohol consumption. The current alcohol control act has given local governments authority to ban the sale of alcohol at night. According to Krzysztof Brzózka a nation-wide ban on the nighttime sale of alcohol is better for effective alcohol control.
Government effort to reduce harm
In an effort to reduce consumption and curb the harm the Polish government has decided to increase alcohol and tobacco excise taxes, on a regular basis.
The proposed change is set to increase excise duty rates on ethyl alcohol and tobacco products by 10% .
The tax increase will come into force from January 1, 2020.
Apart from the positive effect on public health, the Regulatory Impact Assessment shows that due to the tax increase, the budget will gain approx. PLN 1.7 billion next year, and the same in subsequent years.
Increasing taxes is one of the best buy methods for alcohol control recommended by the World Health Organization to curb alcohol harm.