At the start of last year, Poland implemented a new surcharge on alcohol products and high sugar beverages. Recently the government increased excise taxes on alcohol products. These measures have decreased the affordability of alcohol leading to a reduction in alcohol sales in the country.
While alcohol sales are decreasing the reduced affordability has led to an increase in the spending on alcohol products by Poles.
NielsenIQ reports that in the 12 months through March 2022, people in Poland bought 4.1% less alcohol by volume than in the same period a year earlier but Poles spent a record 40.4 billion zloty (€8.7 billion) on alcohol, an increase of 1.4%.
Beer sales volumes dropped by 4.4% and vodka by 3.7%. Meanwhile sales volumes of wine, rum and gin have increased.
However, beer still remains the most consumed type of alcohol in Poland with about 18 billion Zloty spent on it. This accounts for about half of all alcohol sales in the country.
Alcohol harm in Poland
As Movendi International has reported, Poland is facing a massive alcohol burden and the Polish people are suffering from pervasive alcohol harm.
- PWSZ reported in 2020 that alcohol killed 110,000 Polish people in the last 15 years.
- 2019 saw the highest rates of alcohol use in three decades in Poland. Reaching almost 10 liters of per capita alcohol consumption. Driven mainly by tiny alcohol bottles known as “monkeys”.
- In 2019 the country was off-track to meeting its target of a 10% reduction of per capita alcohol consumption by 2025.
As WHO data from the 2018 Global Alcohol Status Report shows, Poland belongs to the countries in the world with a high score concerning years of life lost due to alcohol.
- More than 6000 cancer deaths are due to alcohol.
- More than 4,500 liver cirrhosis deaths are due to 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.
The Polish government realized the need for action to tackle the growing health, social and economic harms caused by the products and practices of the alcohol industry. Therefore they implemented two measures to tackle the problem of cheap alcohol.
- A surcharge for the small alcohol bottles called “monkeys” in 2021, and
- An increase in alcohol excise taxes in 2022.
Surcharge to tackle the monkeys problem
The surcharge on alcohol products which came into force at the start of last year was specifically aimed at small alcohol bottles called “monkeys”. These tiny alcohol bottles below 300 ml were wreaking havoc in Poland.
As Movendi International previously reported the high availability, compact size, and affordability of these bottles have driven about 600,000 Poles to purchase these bottles twice a day, daily.
This is why the Polish government implemented the surcharge of PLN 25 (€5.88) per liter of 100% pure alcohol sold in packaging with volumes of 300 ml and less.
Małpki were bought and consumed for example on the way to work so that no one would see. And since we worked remotely from home, there was nothing to hide,” said Krzysztof Brzózka, former head of the State Agency for Solving Alcohol Problems, as per Notes from Poland.Krzysztof Brzózka, former head of the State Agency for Solving Alcohol Problems (PARPA)
The government stated that the surcharge was to promote healthier consumer choices and it has achieved this goal. According to data from the Market Monitoring Centre, since the surcharge was implemented:
- The sale of pure vodka in 100 ml bottles dropped by 23%.
- The sale of pure vodka in 200 ml bottles dropped by as much as 30%.
Increasing alcohol taxes to further reduce alcohol harms
On January 01, 2022, the Polish government implemented a 10% increase in excise taxes for alcohol products including ethyl alcohol, beer, wine, and other fermented beverages. The government has also planned for an annual 5% increase in alcohol excise taxes for the next five years.
Increasing excise taxes on alcohol as done by the Polish government is one of the best buy policy solutions recommended by the WHO to effectively prevent and reduce alcohol harm. The next step for the Polish government is alcohol tax indexation, which is to routinely adjust the taxes to inflation and purchasing power.