On September 6, 2022, Salud Justa Mx and Mexico Salud Hable Coalition launched the campaign “Regulemos ya, que el alcohol no te consuma!” with the support of the Senate of the Republic, and in partnership with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the National Institute of Psychiatry and the National Office for Tobacco and Alcohol Control of CONADIC/SSA.
“Let’s regulate now, so that alcohol doesn’t consume you!” campaign
The campaign is a communication and advocacy effort. It aims to raise awareness among the public and policymakers about alcohol harms and promote the denormalization of alcohol through policy solutions recommended by the World Health Organization and presented in the plan for proposed alcohol law reform in Mexico.
On the day of the campaign launch, the broad coalition also presented the plan for the prevention, detection, control, and deterrence of alcohol consumption in Mexico. This plan proposes to review current alcohol policies in Mexico and amend them to adhere to World Health Organization and United Nations guidelines.
The plan includes WHO-recommended evidence-based, high-impact policy solutions as outlined in the WHO SAFER package. The plan also emphasizes the importance of preventing conflicts of interest with the alcohol industry.
The campaign has two core messages:
- Sport must not be used to promote the sale and consumption of alcohol.
- Alcohol is a legal but lethal product and therefore evidence-based interventions are needed to protect the health of people, their families, and communities.
Need for alcohol policy action: widespread alcohol harm in Mexico
The third regional status report on alcohol and health in the Americas region, published by PAHO in 2020 provides detail on the current status of alcohol consumption, harms, barriers, and breakthroughs in the Region of the Americas, including Mexico.
Findings from the report illustrate the pervasive alcohol harm in Mexico:
- Deaths due to alcohol increased in Mexico from 32,000 in 2000 to 50,000 in 2019.
- Between 2000 to 2019, the rate of years of life lost due to alcohol-related disability and premature death increased from 1,400 to 1,600 per 100,000 inhabitants
- Mexico has the second highest rate of homicides related to alcohol in the Region of the Americas.
Senator Margarita Valdez Martínez, president of the Senate Health Commission, highlighted the need for regulating alcohol sales, specifically in sports arenas, to protect families and children from the harm caused by alcohol products, including violence.
Overall the WHO Americas region has the second-highest number of alcohol deaths, after the WHO European region.
There are more than 300,000 deaths per year from alcohol consumption [in the Americas region]; we are the second region after Europe, but our consumption continues to increase, including among women,” said Dr. Mario Alberto Zapata, an international expert on Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health at PAHO, as per Salud Justa Mx.Dr. Mario Alberto Zapata, international expert on NCDs and Mental Health, PAHO
Alcohol norms are leading to heavy and binge alcohol use by young people in Mexico. Dr. Jorge Ameth Villatoro, from the National Institute of Psychiatry cited the example of “pre-drinks”. It is a harmful practice where young people would engage in binge alcohol consumption prior to going out to a party or club to get intoxicated before arriving.
Mtro. Carlos Gámez, head of the National Office for Tobacco and Alcohol Control of the SSA and CONADIC highlighted the need to regulate alcohol products better.
Mr Gámez explained they were resuming the work and the public debate on a possible law on alcohol. In addition, he said the NOMs will need to be updated – but with a public health approach. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits will need to be harmonized across the country, since today each state sets their own BAC limits them.
And he cited Professor emeritus Thomas Babor: alcohol is not an ordinary commodity, and the alcohol industry is part of the problem, not the solution.