The new Dutch alcohol law is set to come into force on July 1, 2021. The new law has introduced several improvements to Dutch alcohol policy, mainly aiming to prevent and reduce under-age alcohol use.
Among the improvements are:
- Ban on price promotions with more than 25% discount;
- Ban on promotions such as ‘free’ larger bottle sizes or giveaways, such as glasses;
- Ban on online supermarket sale of hard liquor;
- Prohibiting adults to provide minors alcohol; and
- Fines for breaking the new law ranging from €1,360 to €5,440.
Dutch people have welcomed the new law as it can reduce alcohol problems in the Netherlands, especially protecting young people.
Studies show that there’s strong evidence that alcohol price increases lead to reductions in alcohol use and the problems that go along with it,” said Dr. Carmen Voogt, project leader Centre of Expertise on Alcohol, Trimbos Institute, as per DutchNews.nl.
Young people, who are a risk group for [alcohol use problems], are even more sensitive to price.”Dr. Carmen Voogt, project leader, Centre of Expertise on Alcohol, Trimbos Institute
The Dutch Health Ministry reported a research from last year found people tend to buy more alcohol than they had originally planned if there were price promotions.
According to the study,
- Price promotions pushed people to buy 33% more beer and 50% more wine;
- More than half the people reported choosing shops with price promotions to purchase alcohol; and
- Almost a third reported they would buy less alcohol or buy less frequently if price promotions over 25% were no longer available.
With this ban on discounts of more than 25% on alcoholic [beverages] in shops, we will stop consumers from being tempted to buy more alcohol than planned [due] to special offers,” said a spokesperson for the Dutch Health Ministry, as per DutchNews.nl.Dutch Health Ministry
Unfortunately, the new law weakened an existing alcohol policy in one regard, by lifting the ban on access to liquor stores by minors.
Alcohol harm and policy in Netherlands
Alcohol harm in the Netherlands is pervasive. WHO Europe data show that in the Netherlands the products and practices of the alcohol industry cause massive harms:
- At least 2900 people get cancer every year due to alcohol use.
- Approximately 29,000 people request help each year in addiction care services due to alcohol problems.
- Among adolescents and young adults (15-24 years old) who have died prematurely, alcohol played a role in those deaths in 1 in 7 cases.
The Dutch Finance Ministry had already recognized that alcohol policy solutions can improve Dutch quality of life while saving healthcare costs.
As Movendi International reported, in 2020 the Dutch Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra sent 16 Broad Social Review reports to the House of Representatives. These advisory reports from top officials are prepared in advance of the next cabinet formation in 2021. The report on controlling healthcare costs listed 40 policy options and many preventive measures, including five alcohol policy measures:
- Alcohol tax increase (+200%).
- Reduce (by 25%) alcohol sales outlets.
- Ban alcohol commercials.
- Minimum unit price.
- Alcohol screening by general practitioners.
Implementing these strategies would further protect people and communities in the Netherlands from harm caused by alcohol products and save more lives.