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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Little Progress on Alcohol Policy Globally

A new analysis led by a Boston University School of Public Health researcher finds that few countries have adopted effective measures to reduce alcohol consumption, and that alcohol continues as the seventh leading cause of death and disability worldwide, and the leading cause for people 15­–49 years old.

The analysis is part of a commentary in the latest issue of the World Health Organization (WHO) Bulletin, looking at the effects of the 2010 World Health Assembly’s voluntary “Global strategy to reduce harmful alcohol use” and calling on the World Health Organization (WHO) to establish a stronger, legally-binding commitment for nations to address alcohol consumption.

“We know how to reduce alcohol problems — the global effort to reduce tobacco consumption and related problems provides a clear roadmap. But that effort took resources and resolve, two elements apparently missing in global attempts to reduce alcohol problems,” says lead author Dr. David Jernigan, professor of health law, policy & management.

The analysis used 2015 and 2016 survey responses from more than 170 countries to assess whether they were adopting what WHO has termed the “best buys” for reducing alcohol problems — the most effective and cost-effective approaches. As with tobacco, the authors write, taxing alcohol can reduce consumption across the board, yet in most countries taxes and prices have fallen behind inflation. The survey also found that few countries are addressing alcohol marketing in social media, while the places and times alcohol may be purchased are increasing.

Based on these findings and previous research, the authors conclude that alcohol consumption will likely rise by 17 percent by 2030, while the WHO has set a goal of reducing it by 10 percent by 2025.

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