In 2023, Movendi International published more than 400 stories on our Alcohol Issues News Center, covering alcohol policy and scientific developments around the world and throughout the years.
In our review of the biggest stories in 2023 we have identified six alcohol issues that were significant in the previous year.

Welcome to the Special Edition 2023 Review of the Alcohol Issues Newsletter.
In the 2023 Review of Alcohol Issues, we summarize the 6 biggest alcohol issues of the year:

  1. Alcohol policy progress worldwide.
  2. Alcohol taxation is becoming the priority it should be.
  3. Alcohol warning labelling: people support it and some countries take the lead.
  4. Guidelines (diet, nutrition, cancer prevention) on alcohol consumption keep improving worldwide.
  5. Growing recognition of the direct link between alcohol and cancer.
  6. The changing alcohol norm.

1. Alcohol policy progress worldwide

There is political will and countries around the world are taking action to protect more people from alcohol harm through evidence-based alcohol policy making.
In 2023, we saw remarkable alcohol policy progress at global and regional levels, and in countries around the world.

In May 2023, the World Health Assembly adopted an updated and improved set of public policy best buys to prevent and reduce non-communicable diseases, such as cancer. This update includes a confirmation of the three alcohol policy best buys – underlining the growing evidence base for the impact of alcohol policy solutions.

The alcohol policy best buy impact was evaluated and confirmed in two landmark studies in 2023:

  • Study: Alcohol Policy Best Buys Save Lives in Baltic Countries and Poland
  • Study: Systematic Review of Effects of Alcohol Taxation, MUP, and Availability Limits on Alcohol Consumption and Harm

In September 2023, the Regional Committee Meeting of WHO in the African Region adopted a new alcohol policy framework: “Framework for implementing the Global Alcohol Action Plan 2022–2030 in the WHO African Region”. 

Throughout the year, many countries took action to improve and advance evidence-based alcohol policy.

2. Alcohol taxation is becoming the priority it should be

Recognition of the potential and benefits of policy measures that lower alcohol affordability kept growing in 2023. 
In 2023, we saw remarkable progress in both the evidence base and political action to raise alcohol taxes with health, social, and economic gains. 

  1. A representative survey showed the strong support for raising alcohol taxes among the global population.
  2. WHO issued an alcohol taxation manual and a clarion call on countries to raise alcohol taxes to prevent deaths and promote health for all.
  3. Alcohol is a major obstacle to sustainable development. And in 2023, a landmark study illustrated to potential of alcohol policy in general and alcohol taxation in particular to help eradicate poverty. In fact, alcohol taxation belongs to some of the most efficient ways to promote development.
  4. A new BMJ series on health taxes highlighted the potential of alcohol taxation. Part of this series is a compelling study about the latest evidence and dispelling the myths about alcohol and other health taxes.
  5. Another important study showed that lowering alcohol taxation is linked with negative birth outcomes, such as increasing abortions.
  6. An example for the importance and need for alcohol taxation came from France, where scientific evidence showed that costs to society for alcohol harm dwarf the government revenue from alcohol taxation.

And countries around the world took action to raise alcohol taxes, with big public health victories in Ghana and Sri Lanka, for example.

3. Alcohol warning labelling: people support it and some countries take the lead

In addition to alcohol taxation, the second hot topic in alcohol policy around the world in 2023 was alcohol warning labelling. Two countries are leading the way. Evidence is getting stronger about the potential impact of alcohol warning labelling and surveys clearly show that people support placing warning labels on alcohol products.

  1. Ireland is set to become the first country in the world with mandatory health warnings on alcohol products.
  2. One of the most read stories on the Movendi International News Center was the news that the EU gave the green light for alcohol warning labelling in Ireland, paving the way for cancer warnings being placed on alcohol products.
  3. In 2023, Norway took further action and is another step closer to introducing alcohol warning labels, including cancer warnings.
  4. majority of people in Britain supports alcohol health warning labeling.
  5. In Germanytwo thirds of the adult population favors of alcohol health warning labeling.
  6. And a landmark study answered the question whether alcohol labels work. We summarized the findings here.

4. Guidelines (diet, nutrition, cancer prevention) on alcohol consumption keep improving worldwide

In addition to alcohol taxation and alcohol labelling, the third hot topic in alcohol policy around the world in 2023 was the improvement of low-risk alcohol consumption guidelines around the world. As the evidence about the link between alcohol and cancer and the risks due to low-dose alcohol use keeps growing, countries and regions are taking action to improve alcohol consumption guidelines accordingly. 

  1. Canada’s new and updated low-risk alcohol use guidelines were the biggest story, even in 2023. Also on the Movendi International Science Digest, the new guidelines were among the most read stories.
  2. The Nordic countries also undertook a comprehensive and ambitious exercise to review the evidence base and consequently updated the Nordic nutrition recommendations. These include advise to avoid alcohol for health and well-being.
  3. A little bit further south, Mexico improved their dietary guidelines based in review of latest science. And the Mexican dietary guidelines also recommend people to avoid alcohol for health and sustainability. Our story about these news belongs to most read stories in 2023.
  4. For Latin America and the CaribbeanPAHO and IARC launched a brand new code against cancer. This code contains important recommendations for both people (avoid alcohol for cancer prevention) as well as governments (raise alcohol taxes for cancer prevention).

5. Growing recognition of the direct link between alcohol and cancer

Alcohol causes cancer. And in 2023 both policy and scientific developments advanced the public conversation about the carcinogenic effects of alcohol products. A great example is the new code against cancer for Latin America and the Caribbean (see above). Another excellent example is the imminent introduction of cancer warning labels on alcohol products in Norway and Ireland (also, see above).
But a major challenge remains lack of awareness among the public that the products of alcohol companies cause 7 types of cancer.

6. The changing alcohol norm

The pervasive and harmful alcohol norm is changing, especially in high-income countries. A growing number of people is going alcohol-free, young people view alcohol increasingly negative, more people are concerned about the health impact of alcohol, more people become aware of and reject alcohol pressures, for example in work environments, and many people actually want alcohol policy change – these are some of the indicators for how the alcohol norm is being disrupted and replaced by healthier, more inclusive social norms.

Source Website: Keep Updated with Movendi International