High levels of alcohol use and high levels of alcohol harm
One in ten Czech Adults are at high risk of health harm due to high-risk alcohol use, new data reveal.
Czechia is a high alcohol consumption country and therefore also has a high burden of alcohol harm. Now, new data illustrate just how many people in Czechia are at the highest risk of health harm.
The centre’s annual report on addiction also reveals that the network of support and services for people with alcohol use problems is inadequate.
About only 30,000 people are currently receiving treatment.
The high levels of alcohol use and the linked high burden of alcohol harm cause massive costs to people, communities, and Czech society overall.
Experts have estimated the losses and impacts of alcohol addiction at up to CZK 55 billion a year.
Understanding alcohol harm in Czechia
Per capita alcohol use is more than ten litres of pure alcohol per year in Czechia – among the highest levels in the world.
The rate of alcohol consumption has been high for a long time,” said Pavla Chomynova, head of the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addictions, as per Brno Daily.
According to studies, the situation has not changed in the long term.”Pavla Chomynova, head of the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addictions
Almost one-tenth of adults in the country, around 900,000 people, consume alcohol every day, and around 1.5 million consume alcohol at hazardous levels, according to new data from the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addictions.
Chronic alcohol use, frequent alcohol use, and high-levels of alcohol use per consumption occasion are increasing the risk of developing health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, alcohol use disorder and addiction, liver cirrhosis, and more.
More than 7,000 deaths are caused to alcohol every year in Czechia.
Proven solutions are available
Proven solutions to reduce overall alcohol use in Czechia and to address the heavy alcohol burden are available. The World Health Organization reccommends the SAFER alcohol policy blue print.
SAFER focuses on five key alcohol policy solutions that are based on world-class evidence of their positive effects for population health and their cost-effectiveness.
In a policy statement earlier this year, the government said it wanted to combat addiction according to a “scientifically proven and balanced approach to risk prevention and harm reduction.”
The Czech government proposes an increase in the excise tax on alcohol in a consolidation budget package aimed at improving state finances. However, the taxation of still wine will remain at zero.
In February 2022, WHO Europe showed the potential for governments in Europe to save thousands of lives every year if they improved alcohol taxation. Increasing the price of alcohol products through raising taxes is the most cost-effective alcohol policy solution to prevent and reduce alcohol harm.
But despite the benefits of alcohol taxation, it remains one of the least implemented measures in the WHO European Region – especially wine taxation holds huge potential to help reduce alcohol use, raise much-needed government revenue, and prevent alcohol harm.
WHO Europe is planning to support member states to harness the power of health taxes – a unique opportunity for the government of Czechia, given the heavy alcohol burden.
Introducing a minimum tax share of 25% in the WHO European Region can prevent 40,033 deaths.
A 15% tax share with equalization can prevent 132,906 deaths. Equalization means applying the same minimal retail price per unit of ethanol in any alcohol product regardless of the type (beer, wine, spirit, etc.).
If Czechia were to introduce such an alcohol tax, including taxing wine, it would save thousands of lives, improve the health of millions of Czech people, and generate much-needed revenue for the government to invest in treatment and support services.
WHO Europe concludes that similar to tobacco taxes, increasing alcohol taxes should be considered to be a health-based measure aimed at saving lives.