New data from PWSZ show that in Poland about 110,000 Poles were killed by alcohol in the last 15 years. Health indicators which was improving since the dip in 1990s have started to again go on reverse since 2003. Researchers from PWSZ show the main reason is increasing alcohol consumption in the country…

Poland: Alcohol Killed 110,000 Poles In Last 15 Years

New data from PWSZ shows that in Poland about 110,000 people were killed by alcohol in the last 15 years.

Health indicators which were improving since a dip in the 1990s have started to again go in reverse since 2003. According to research by Dr. Witold Zatoński from the European Observatory of Health Inequalities at the State Higher Vocational School in Kalisz and President of the Health Promotion Foundation, the main reason for decreasing health in Poland is increasing alcohol consumption.

Their findings show 110,000 Poles died of diseases directly caused by alcohol between 2002 to 2017.

If we also included indirect causes, such as accidents and injuries as well as cardiovascular diseases and cancer, to which alcohol [use] contributes, these data should be multiplied at least twice,” said Dr. Witold Zatoński, as per,

Their research shows that the rise in alcohol consumption coincides with the weakening of alcohol control in Poland. The rise began after 2000. In 2001, beer advertising returned to television and in 2002 excise taxes on alcohol were slashed by 30%. 

Other key findings of the 15 year period between 2002 to 2017 show:

  • Annual alcohol consumption in Poland calculated on pure alcohol increased by over 2 liters – from 8.5 liters to 10.6 liters, while in all but four EU countries the trend is decreasing.
  • Mortality from alcohol consumption increased. For men alcohol mortality more than doubled from 3.7%. in 2002 to 8.7% in 2017, and it increased over four times for women – from 1.1% up to 5.3%.

Increasing alcohol consumption but lack of political action to reduce harm

New data also shows that between January 2018 and September 2019, monthly vodka production increased from 64,000 up to 87,500 hectoliters. In the same period, the consumption of vodka, per year increased by 5.6%, and beer by 4.5%.

As Movendi International previously reported, small bottles of alcohol known as ‘monkeys’ are further adding to the harm due to more affordability, increasing consumption.

Data shows, alcohol spending in 2019 reached PLN 35 billion and was the highest in history.

PWSZ experts in Kalisz called for an immediate return of the programme to reduce alcohol consumption and harm. They stress advertising bans and increasing alcohol taxes along with educational campaigns are urgently needed to curb the growing alcohol harm in the country.

©WHO Global Alcohol Status Report 2018

As WHO data from the 2018 Global Alcohol Status Report shows, Poland belongs to the countries in the world with the highest score concerning years of life lost due to alcohol.

  • More than 6000 cancer deaths are due to alcohol in Poland.
  • More than 4,500 liver cirrhosis deaths are caused by alcohol.
  • 22.7% of Polish men have an alcohol use disorder.
  • 63.5% of Polish alcohol consuming youth between 15 and 19 years of age engage in binge alcohol use.

At the same time, the WHO overview shows that alcohol control legislation in Poland is flawed. There’s no national action. There are only insufficient availability regulations, for examples regarding on- and off-premise alcohol retail. And there are only weak alcohol marketing regulations. In addition, Poland does not have a national monitoring system.

Increasing taxes and advertising bans are two of the alcohol policy best buys recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to reduce alcohol consumption and harm. The WHO has also launched the SAFER package as a blueprint for governments to use to implement the best buy measures for alcohol control. It is high time the Polish government addressed the alcohol problem in Poland and safeguarded the public interest.

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