WHO Advances Report Endorsing Tax Hikes on Alcohol

Alcohol prices should be increased via taxation and stricter controls clamped on advertising in order to control binge drinking and other harmful drinking, according to a draft global alcohol-control strategy recently endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) executive board.

“Consumers, including heavy drinkers and young people, are sensitive to changes in the price of drinks,” states the WHO draft approved by the WHO board in January and sent to the World Health Assembly for consideration. “Increasing the price of alcoholic beverages is one of the most effective interventions to reduce harmful use of alcohol.”

Reuters reported Jan. 12 that the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance called on the WHO executive board to approve the policy, even though it objected to the plan's endorsement of certain industry self-regulation strategies.

The alcohol industry, represented by the Global Alcohol Producers Group, called the draft an “important and constructive step forward” but warned against excessive taxation and regulation.

The WHO is aiming for a global alcohol strategy similar to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control passed in 2003.

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