Welcome to our latest edition of carefully curated alcohol policy news, the latest highlights from our Science Digest, and brand-new Big Alcohol revelations.
This week’s special feature is about ‘Alcohol and the SDGs: Are European Countries Taking Evidence-Based Action?’
The newsletter also includes our most recent Alcohol Issues Podcast episode and upcoming event alerts.

Alcohol Issues May 02 – May 06, 2022

This week’s Alcohol Issues highlights

  • Spanish Government and Municipalities Take Action to Lower Alcohol Availability.
  • Allowing Alcohol Home Delivery During COVID-19 Increased Alcohol Use Including Binge Alcohol Use.
  • Big Alcohol Bets Big on Metaverse to Push Alcohol Availability.

This week’s most popular stories

  • Big Alcohol Lobbies Against Alcohol Taxation in India and Kenya – Again.
  • One in Three Injuries Due to Alcohol, Says Latvian Emergency Service.
  • NADA India Launches ‘VLead Academy’ – Online Certificate Course on Alcohol Prevention.

Special Feature – No. 16

Alcohol and the SDGs: Are European Countries Taking Evidence-Based Action?

A brand-new study provides ground-breaking analysis showing that most European countries fail to address alcohol as obstacle to multiple other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) than health in the design of measures to make progress towards the SDGs. To make matters worse, inaccurate language related to alcohol harm indicates gaps in understanding of the extent of the alcohol burden and its impediments to sustainable development. 
This first-of-its-kind study, published in the peer reviewed journal PLOS ONE, spotlights the need to improve countries’ recognition of alcohol harm as cross-cutting obstacle to 14 of 17 SDGs and to strengthen countries’ capacity to utilize alcohol policy solutions as catalyst for sustainable development.

In the ‘Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs’ there are less than eight years left to facilitate transformative change, and high-impact alcohol policy solutions hold significant potential to drive progress towards health and development for all.

Alcohol is, for example, a driver of poverty and hunger (SDG 1 and 2). The products and practices of the alcohol industry cause a significant and increasing global disease burden (SDG 3). Alcohol is a risk factor for violence (SDG 5 and 16), and it contributes to inequalities (SDG 5 and 10). The harm caused by alcohol companies undermines economic productivity and hinders economic growth (SDG 8), disrupts sustainable consumption (SDG 12) and adversely impacts the environment (SDG 6, 13 and 15). 

But these effects are not considered by European countries in the design of measures to achieve these sustainable development goals. Effective alcohol policy solutions, the so called three best buys, are largely missing from transformative action that the Agenda 2030 calls for and that governments committed to.

In November 2020, the World Health Organization’s regional office for Europe (WHO Europe) published a factsheet illustrating to what extent alcohol is an obstacle to achieving almost all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In this new factsheet, WHO Europe builds on and uses Movendi International’s original analysis of the 2030 Agenda and alcohol’s adverse effects.

Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, positive developments should have paved the way for more countries to take ambitious action for development through alcohol policy.

For instance, Estonia – a country that is severely affected by alcohol harm – developed work to use alcohol policy as catalyst for reaching multiple SDGs.

By implementing a comprehensive evidence-based alcohol policy, Estonia has reduced alcohol consumption by one-third over the last decade. As a result, alcohol-related morbidity and mortality have decreased and the health gap between different population groups has narrowed.

Estonia’s alcohol policy is directly linked to implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 3, and specifically target 3.5. Since alcohol-related deaths and health problems are more pronounced at the lower end of the social gradient, reducing alcohol harm also contributes to achieving SDG 10 to ‘reduce inequality within and among countries’.

Also in 2020, the UN Statistical Commission approved a set of changes to the global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A positive change was the refinement of the indicator to measure progress towards SDG 3.5. The UN Statistical Commission thus rebuked alcohol industry efforts to undermine scientific consensus and weaken the response to alcohol as obstacle to development.

But European countries still engage in counter-productive and incoherent actions, concerning their SDGs commitment and handouts to the alcohol industry. A 2021 report by Vital Strategies, with support from Movendi International, exposed how governments and development agencies incentivize the alcohol industry, increasing industry profits and reach, despite the development burden caused by alcohol. Even as countries struggle to meet their health care needs, including the soaring costs of NCDs, this report shows that many countries continue to promote the very products that cause harm to health. This report exposes how these incentives essentially promote alcohol on behalf of the industry, to the detriment of individuals and societies.

The Alcohol Issues Podcast

S2 E8: A Human Rights-Based Approach to Alcohol Policy: the WHO Global Alcohol Action Plan and Beyond

In this episode, host Maik Dünnbier talks with Prof. Amandine Garde about the human rights law perspective on the global alcohol action plan. 

In their conversation, they discuss alcohol policy issues beyond the WHO Global Alcohol Action Plan to enhance the understanding of alcohol policy not only as public health priority but also as human rights priority – and the potential of such an approach.

The discussion goes into depth regarding the following questions:

  1. What does a Human Rights based perspective of the WHO Global Alcohol Action Plan find?
  2. What is a rights-based approach to alcohol policy development and what is its potential?
  3. What can countries do collectively to advance alcohol policy development, regarding the many cross-border alcohol issues, such as taxation, marketing, labeling, the emergence of online trade and on-demand delivery?
  4. What is the potential of a global binding instrument for alcohol control?

Amandine Garde is a Professor of Law at the University of Liverpool. She has developed a specific research expertise on the role of law in the prevention of non-communicable diseases and is Founding Director of the Law & NCD Research Unit, which regularly advises international organisations, NGOs, public health agencies and governments worldwide.

Source Website: Keep Updated with Movendi International