Policies, education and mobilization
Despite the enormity of the challenge, evidence and experience strongly suggest that substance use problems can be reduced. Such efforts require the political will to tackle the problems and a smart mix of government policies, education activities, and mobilization of communities and NGOs. Particular attention should focus on implementing evidenced-based strategies, which necessarily include interventions to reduce the availability and the affordability of alcohol and illicit drugs.
The Nepalese Government passed a “National Policy on Regulation and Control of Alcohol-2017” on Monday, imposing a total ban on alcohol advertisement, promotion and sponsorship.
Leading public health experts warn that youth around the world are exposed to extensive alcohol marketing. Current controls on that marketing appear ineffective in blocking the association between youth exposure and subsequent drinking. This is documented in a Supplement of the prestigious scientific journal Addiction.
New study published:
More than a fourth of all monitored alcohol advertisements violated the industry’s own marketing codes, concludes a study covering seven African countries. Stronger government regulation of alcohol marketing is needed.
PAHO Meeting on alcohol marketing
An expert meeting on alcohol marketing was organized by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) last year and the report from the event released last month. One conclusion is that there is a growing need to protect vulnerable populations from the potential effects of inappropriate alcohol marketing. Governments should consider comprehensive bans on alcohol marketing.
Co-hosted by Botswana, Ecuador, Estonia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam a side event on "Alcohol Marketing in the Digital World" was held at the World Health Assembly in Geneva last week.
“No responsible government can ignore the dramatic consequences that alcohol use has for the health and wellbeing of its people. It is a primary task for governments to protect the health of their citizens.” With this strong opening statement Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set the tone for the rest of the Global Alcohol Policy Conference (GAPC) in Edinburgh last week. The First Minister in particular supported the idea of Minimum Unit Pricing on alcohol, a very hot political topic in Scotland right now.
“Environmental regulation is critical to supporting individual change of behaviour and to positively influencing people away from binge drinking and its ultimate effects on society. If there is no direct intervention to curb easy access to and the excessive use of alcohol, South Africa’s young population will feel the impact for generations to come”.
At a function in downtown Gaborone, Botswana a new policy alliance and an NGO manual on alcohol advertising was launched in the presence of the Ministry of Health. - We need strong civil society voices in the alcohol policy field, commented the Deputy Permanent Secretary Mrs. Shenaaz El-Halabi on behalf of the Ministry.
Civil society organizations can, when adequately resourced and supported, play an important and productive role in steering policy developments in a sound public-interest direction. This is the conclusion in a recently published article about Malawi in the International Journal on Alcohol and Drug Research.
At a WHO/UNDP workshop in Namibia governments and NGOs were challenged to address alcohol-related harm, gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS in an integrated manner. Nine African countries are now following up at national level.