WHO resolves to fight global alcohol abuse

27 August, 2008
Page 5 
Leading international drinks firms have welcomed a global resolution to reduce alcohol abuse, agreed by members of the assembly of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

All 193 WHO members signed up to a resolution to reduce alcohol-related harm at the World Health Assembly in Geneva last month (see Drinks International, May).

Alcohol is linked to 1.8 million deaths worldwide every year, and is believed to be the root of more than a fifth of liver disease, road accidents, oesophageal cancer and homicides, according to WHO.

It will now spend the next two years developing a global alcohol strategy.

Major drinks industry players welcomed the new resolution as "balanced" and "constructive". A coalition of 16 companies, named the Global Alcohol Producers Group, has been in discussions with the WHO for the past three years.

Chris Swonger, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Beam Global, said: "Although alcohol is enjoyed responsibly and in moderation most of the time by most consumers who choose to drink, a minority of individuals misuse alcohol products."

Tax on alcohol remains a potential flashpoint between drinks firms and health bodies, however.

The WHO is believed to favour tax rises as a way of curbing excess drinking. But drinks firms this week cautioned against "a singular focus on high taxes and restrictions on availability being seen as a panacea that will solve harmful drinking".

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Nick Strangeway

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