Welcome to the Special Edition 2021 Review of the Alcohol Issues Newsletter. In the 2021 Review, we summarize the 4 biggest alcohol issues stories of the year. We curate the 5 most popular alcohol policy news, the 5 most popular alcohol science digests, and the 3 most popular blog posts. And we summarize the 10 landmark reports and resources that became available in 2021. As the pandemic persists, we also turn the spotlight on COVID-19 and alcohol harm in the past year. And we provide a unique overview of the unethical business practices that the alcohol industry deployed in 2021.


January 01, 2021 – December 31, 2021

The four biggest alcohol issues stories of the past year are:

Policy and scientific developments regarding alcohol’s cancer link

Alcohol causes cancer. And in 2021 both policy and scientific developments advanced the public conversation.

A new study illustrated the Global Cancer Burden caused by alcohol. And the European Union is set to take comprehensive action to address the alcohol-cancer link.

  1. Global Burden Of Cancer In 2020 Attributable To Alcohol Consumption
  2. Awareness of Alcohol as a Carcinogen and Support for Alcohol Control Policies
  3. Higher Alcohol Taxes Mitigate Cancer Burden
  4. Raising Alcohol Taxes Reduces Cancer Deaths Caused by Alcohol
  5. European Parliament Highlights the Role of Alcohol Policy in New Report on Beating Cancer

Policy and scientific developments regarding alcohol affordability, especially taxation

As is evident from the scientific developments regarding the link between alcohol and cancer, the understanding of the potential and impact of policy measures that address alcohol affordability has improved in 2021.

Especially the triple win effects of alcohol excise taxation were a big story throughout 2021 – remarkable with a focus on low- and middle-income countries. Also alcohol minimum unit pricing was a big story in 2021.

Reducing alcohol affordability is the single most effective solution to alcohol harm.

  1. Lesotho: Alcohol Taxation As Development Priority
  2. Ghana: The IMF Calls For Alcohol Tax Increase to Fund Sustainable Development
  3. Nigeria: World Bank Recommends Alcohol Tax Rise
  4. Role of Alcohol Taxes in Reducing Alcohol Consumption
  5. Case Study of Alcohol Taxation and Cancers in Lithuania

Scientific developments regarding health harm from low-dose alcohol use

Any amount of alcohol use increases the risk of harm. In 2021, landmark scientific investigations have added more evidence to the understanding of health harm from low-does alcohol use, for example concerning brain and heart health.

Evidence is also getting ever stronger how the alcohol industry has tried to shape and influence scientific findings, especially regarding cardiovascular health.

  1. New Study: Alcohol Is Bad For the Heart
  2. New Study: Any Amount of Alcohol Use Is Harmful to the Brain
  3. No Safe Level of Alcohol Consumption for Brain Health
  4. Study: Alcohol Industry Funding Distorts Findings About Alcohol and Heart Disease
  5. Alcohol, Cardiovascular Disease and Industry Funding

WHO process to develop and global alcohol action plan

The World Health Organization (WHO) is conducting an extensive consultation process to develop a global alcohol action plan to accelerate action on alcohol harm is public health priority – an urgent need according to WHO Member States.

But the alcohol and tobacco industries are interfering in the process to develop the action plan.

While the policy development process is a unique chance to make alcohol policy the priority it should be, the process also highlights WHO’s vulnerability to increasing alcohol industry interference.

  1. WHO: Global Alcohol Action Plan Consultation Submissions Published
  2. The New WHO Foundation — Global Health Deserves Better
  3. WHO Should Not Support Alcohol Industry Co‐Regulation of Public Health Labelling
  4. Civil Society Steps Up to Help Accelerate Alcohol Policy Action Worldwide
  5. WHO Fails to Adequately Protect Global Alcohol Policy Development From Alcohol, Tobacco Industry Interference

The Minister of Health and Wellness of Jamaica, Dr. Christopher Tufton, took bold action to stop alcohol industry interference in public health. He prohibited all agencies, officials or employees of the ministry from accepting donations, sponsorship, gifts, services or assistance in cash or kind from tobacco or alcohol-producing companies or their subsidiaries.
The measure is in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recommendations.

Alcohol use disorders in particular, and alcohol harm in general exert a heavy toll on communities in the United States. Nevertheless, alcohol harm remains a silent epidemic, that seems to be growing. Alcohol use among women in the United States has caught up to the level of men. This trend is leading to severe consequences in terms of alcohol harm in women. Four illustrations depict grave trends of rising alcohol harm during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

2021 was a big year with regards to new landmark reports and important new analysis on alcohol harm in multiple areas, such as tuberculosis, mental health in children and youth, road safety, as well as liver disease. 2021 also brought us new landmark reports, such as from the OECD and the WHO, illustrating the potential of alcohol policy.

  1. New WHO Report: Alcohol Best Buys With Second Highest Return on Investment
  2. New OECD Report Summary: Governments Should Step Up Efforts to Prevent, Reduce Alcohol Harm
  3. New WHO Report: Spike in Tuberculosis Deaths During COVID-19, With Alcohol Identified As Major Risk Factor
  4. UNICEF: ‘The State of the World’s Children’ Report Addresses Alcohol Harm
  1. Big Alcohol Exposed in New Vital Strategies Report: How Governments Incentivize Alcohol Death and Disability
  2. World Bank Report: Alcohol Fuels Road Traffic Crashes in Malawi
  3. New WHO Fact Sheet: Commercial Determinants of Health
  4. New EASL–Lancet Liver Commission Calls for Paradigm Shift in European Liver Disease Response
  5. PAHO: New Study Reveals High Death Rate Due to Alcohol

The Regional Office of the World Health Organization in Europe developed a number of landmark resources in 2021, including one fact sheet about alcohol and cancer, and three landmark reports:

As the coronavirus mutates and the pandemic persists, strong evidence emerged in 2021 illustrating many examples of the lethal interaction between alcohol and COVID-19.

Alcohol fuels the coronavirus pandemic in different ways, the alcohol industry exploits the current public health crisis and many governments around the world have largely failed to protect their people by using evidence-based alcohol policy solutions as part of the response to COVID-19 – according to a brand new research report.

In a landmark event, first of its kind, Movendi International together with the governments of Kenya and Sri Lanka, the OECD, the WHO in Europe and the Americas, and the NCD Alliance and IOGT-NTO from Sweden, took stock of the lessons learned from the lethal interaction between alcohol and the coronavirus pandemic and analyzed the role of alcohol prevention and control for building back better in the coming months and years.

Alcohol harms the immune system as well as health systems, fueling the pandemic and undermining societies’ ability to respond effectively to COVID-19. In many countries, alcohol harm is worsening during the pandemic.

The alcohol industry engages in unethical practices systematically.

These unethical practices can be divided into the areas of lobbying or political interference, promotion, sabotage, manipulation, and deception.

It means that the unethical conduct of Big Alcohol mirrors the strategies and tactics that Big Tobacco deploys.

Political interference

Lobbying or political interference is Big Alcohol’s strategy to eliminate or minimize any alcohol policy effort that threatens sales and profits. Lobbying, or political interference, refers to different actions of how Big Alcohol affect laws, regulations and policy decisions. In 2021, their lobbying track record included:

  1. South Africa: Big Alcohol Deploys Big Tobacco Playbook Against COVID-19 Measures
  2. European Union: Healthy Food Strategy Hijacked by Big Alcohol
  3. WHO Fails to Adequately Protect Global Alcohol Policy Development From Alcohol, Tobacco Industry Interference
  4. Big Beer Thirsting for Africa – and the Consequences


Promotion is the alcohol industry strategy to drive alcohol availability, perpetuate the alcohol norm and place alcohol at the center of people’s thoughts, communities’ concerns, and societies’ customs. In 2021, Big Alcohol’s promotion track record included:

  1. Exposed: Big Alcohol Made $17.5 Billion on Under-Age Alcohol Use
  2. New Study: Alcohol Ads Commonly Appeal to Minors
  3. In Harm’s Way: Children Live Online More Than Ever and Big Alcohol Is Targeting Them
  4. Big Alcohol Exposed: Big Investments in Advertising Onslaught
  5. Australia: Big Alcohol Exposed For Predatory Pandemic Marketing


Sabotage is the alcohol industry strategy to avoid, violate and undermine society’s rules, laws, and institutions. Big Alcohol seeks to deliberately destroy, damage, or undermine the rules and proper functioning of central institutions of society and democracy.

  1. France: Addictions Increase Amidst Alcohol Industry Illegal Marketing
  2. Australia: Alcohol Lobby Pushes to Weaken Public Health (Again)
  3. Heineken Taken to Court Over Decades-Long Illegal Activity in Greece
  4. New Oxfam Report: Big Wines’ Human Rights Abuses
  5. India: Big Alcohol Fined For Decade-Long Illegal Activity


Manipulation is the alcohol industry strategy to control its image. Big Alcohol companies engage in manipulation to protect and cultivate their image and brand value and to appear as “good corporate citizens” all the while causing harm.

  1. Exposed: Big Alcohol Uses ‘Crisis Washing’ to Not Let the Pandemic Go to Waste
  2. Exposed: Big Alcohol Is Hijacking Pride Month
  3. Public Health Emergency or Opportunity To Profit? The Two Faces of the COVID-19 Pandemic
  4. Festive Profits: Big Alcohol Hijacks Christmas Season


Alcohol industry strategy to hinder and obscure public recognition of the real effects of alcohol. Deception involves the different ways industries intentionally misinform, withhold data and try to confuse the public and politicians about the real effects of the products they are selling.

  1. Big Alcohol Exposed in Brazil: Front Groups Are the Source of Alcohol Policy Misinformation
  2. The Health Halo of Better-for-You Alcohol Products
  3. Alcohol Industry-Funded Websites Mis-Represent the Evidence on Cardiovascular Health
  4. Study: Alcohol Industry Funding Distorts Findings About Alcohol and Heart Disease

In 2021, we made 11 episodes of The Alcohol Issues Podcast. Find them all here, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

Source Website: Keep Informed with Movendi International