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31.08.2006

Submission to WHO on health problems related to alcohol consumption

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Please enter your organization's views on the magnitude of health problems related to alcohol consumption: (max 300 words)

Alcohol problems are the biggest social medical problem in industrialized countries. And soon it will be a big problem in developing countries too, as the market in the first and second world is almost saturated. And the third world has not the necessary social and medical network for helping. The alcohol industry of Europe and the USA makes the devolping aid of those countries to a great extent useless.
About the medical harm of alcohol the researchers and health professionals, WHO and other sources inform currently. Not wellknown enough is the role of alcohol in the case of HIV infection. The latest study we read is the American research on the
fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in Italy, which shows that this problem has been underestimated a lot. Underestimated are also the more psychological problems caused by alcohol: E.g. the lack of chances in life for millions of children in families with alcohol problems, broken homes, divorces, violence, sexual violence, unwanted children, suicide, criminality. Wellknown are the damages caused by drink driving.

Please enter your organization's opinions on effective interventions to reduce health problems related to alcohol consumption: (max 300 words)

We are very much convinced that the measures shown in Thomas Baboor et al.: "Alcohol - no ordinary commodity" 2003 are the most effective. To reduce harm caused by alcohol we have to reduce the consumption in general:
Alcohol taxes to rise prices
Minimum price limits
Limit the availability of alcoholic beverages
Reduction of the BAC limit, with many controls without suspicion
Underage drinking:
  Rising the age limit.
  Ban of sales, ban of possession of alcohol. Possibility to take to court parents, peers, etc. if they make alcohol available to kids
  or tolerate parties in their homes or facilities.
Total ban of alcohol advertising in order to clean the environment to protect children and youth against wrong messages. Then prevention gets a chance. (See WHO Publication: Regionale Veröffentlichung der WHO, Europäische Schriftenreihe Nr. 62 "Alkohol und Massenmedien" 1998)
Only laws effectively asserting make measures working. People have to be convinced.
To rise taxes to an extent which really reduces consumption, therefore the tax has to be high. The majority of people not abusing alcohol doesn't like to pay more in order to reduce drinking by strong drinking adults or binge drinking youth. That means there must be a system which gives a profit to all. The tax income has to be invested e.g. in old age benefit insurance, to pay the medical costs of alcohol related cases, for culture and sport in order to exclude sponsoring by the alcohol industry and give alternatives to the drinking culture, to help e.g. wine farmers who suffer from the decline of alcohol consumption, to develop new softdrinks with their fruits and for the marketing. This model is published on our website www.alkoholpolitik.ch. (Project)

Additional comments: (max 300 words)

Not mentioned so far are the extreme high cost of alcohol problems in any society. Switzerland estimates 6.5 Billion Swiss Francs per year. This means about 700 CHF per person.
Alcohol problems mean also a general corruption in society. Especially in parliaments, in the economic world, in massmedia most people are alcohol consumers as the general population is. For that reason alone many responsible persons are handicapped when they should handle the alcohol question in a way which is to the benefit of the whole population. Others are even sponsored by the alcohol industry or they feel obliged to friends which have links to the alcohol industry. In many parliaments the alcohol lobby is one of the strongest. It is hard to convince them that health brings wealth, as the former EU Commissionar David Byrne said.

We wonder, why WHO has invited the alcohol industry to this collection of opinion, as it is clear that they never can agree to measures which reduce their sales and profits. In Switzerland 50% of the total consumption is consumed by 11% of the population above 14 years. Those 11% are strong drinkers and the binge drinking youth. The alcohol industry can not do without those 50%. We should like to remember that WHO officially stated at the Stockholm Conference about Youth and Alcohol that measures in order to reduce alcohol problems must be discussed and executed without the influence of the alcohol industry.

 

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