Alcohol at international level

Alcohol is a major risk factor for disease, causing around 6% of all deaths. To combat this, WHO announced a global strategy, which underpins its European action plan 2012-2020.   

WHO alcohol strategy and action plan

The Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol contains recommendations to effectively combat problematic alcohol consumption and its consequences. It was reworked by WHO Europe within the framework of the European action plan to reduce the harmful use of alcohol 2012-2020. In Switzerland, WHO’s recommendations are integrated in the National strategy and prevention plan for non-communicable diseases 2017-2024.  

European action plan to reduce the harmful use of alcohol 2012-2020

  1. Leadership, awareness and commitment
    Lasting change requires leadership, awareness and (political) commitment. National programmes and action plans can contribute to this process. Public education campaigns, partnerships and coordinated activities are crucial here.

  2. Health services’ response
    The health services play an important role in reducing risks on an individual basis. They propose interventions and treatment and can provide information on how alcohol use affects health.

  3. Community action
    Problems may differ from one place to another, hence the need to seek solutions at the community level.

  4. Drink-driving policies and countermeasures
    The plan recommends adopting measures aimed at reducing the number of accidents linked to alcohol, such as introducing a maximum blood alcohol content (BAC) and regular police checks.

  5. Availability of alcohol
    The availability of alcohol plays an important role for at-risk groups (such as underage people and chronic drinkers). The plan therefore recommends a minimum purchase age, as well as restrictions on the places and times when alcoholic beverages can be purchased.

  6. Marketing of alcoholic beverages
    Advertising has a significant impact, particularly on young people. Restrictions on advertising can help reduce consumption.
  7. Pricing policies
    Consumers are very sensitive to price changes. Increasing prices is one of the most effective measures to reduce alcohol-related problems. The plan therefore recommends imposing a special tax on alcoholic beverages and restricting or even banning promotions and special offers.  

  8. Reducing the negative consequences of drinking and alcohol intoxication
    These measures do not directly aim to reduce consumption, but to reduce the negative consequences associated with alcohol abuse (e.g. violence).

  9. Reducing the public health impact of illicit alcohol and informally produced alcohol
    The illegal production of alcoholic beverages should be reduced as these products are often particularly harmful to health.

  10. Monitoring and surveillance
    Collecting data and tracking progress is important at the community level, as well as nationally and internationally.

  11. Alcohol policy regulation in Europe: an overview
    Taxes, advertising bans, drink-driving limits and setting minimum ages to purchase alcohol: policy on alcohol in Europe varies from country to country. This database provides an overview of regulations and allows comparisons to be made.

    European states have a high degree of autonomy when it comes to designing their national alcohol policy. The measures that countries deploy to counter the negative impact of alcohol use, such as setting drink-driving limits, banning or restricting alcohol advertising, setting the legal age to purchase alcohol, opening hours and licensing laws, are many and differ widely from one country to another.
    This database aims to provide an overview of alcohol policy regulation in selected European countries and to enable cross-country comparisons. It features only those measures drawn from the national legislation. By clicking on a country, a list of its alcohol regulations will appear. Clicking on a specific indicator makes it possible to compare regulations across countries. An explanatory text appears when the mouse is moved over the selected indicator.

Last modification 20.08.2018

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