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Alcohol taxes aren't high enough, says World Health Organization

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The WHO also released an "alcohol tax manual" on Tuesday

Actually, the name of the document is the WHO Technical Manual on Alcohol Tax Policy and Administration. It is currently available at https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240082793.

By now, you may be hard pressed to find someone that doesn’t know about WHO member nation obligations. That nations have agreed to adopt methods to reduce consumption of certain unhealthy products by those they govern. Smoking, fat and sugar intake, and so on. And alcohol is one of the items that nations are supposed to reduce how much is consumed, by previously agreed to dates.

This comes against the backdrop that the WHO decided that no amount of alcohol is safe to consume, based upon evidence of health risks involved. But the nations have only agreed, so far, to reduce instead of eliminate.

Anyone who has tuned into WHO events on this subject also know that the WHO is unhappy over how much progress is being made to meet the goals by deadline. Even when the effects of the pandemic are overlooked.

So the WHO has developed various strategies they want to see the nations adopt. And today’s press opportunity, with release of this guideline, is one of them. And this particular offering is meant to serve as a toolkit for governments to disincentive those that want to consume it, and any industry that wants consumers to do so.

Most of what today's manual is familiar and has been previously discussed. Two things strike me as somewhat new: Unrecorded alcohol and popular opinion over taxation.

The latter is the easiest to discuss, because there isn’t any. No mention of public opinions or polling, aside from a section that describes how the industry mobalizes grass-root opposition towards efforts to restrict access to the product or to tax the product to put it out of reach of a segment of the population. And they cite advertising as one of the ways this happens; but to their credit, they do not propose an idea that this should somehow not be allowed or restricted.

The other surprise was unrecorded alcohol. Which they categorize as either legal or illegal homemade alcohol, commercial scale production and smuggling, the type of alcohol most sane people wouldn’t consume if they can’t help it (e.g. mouthwash), and cross-border purchase (e.g., people from a dry jurisdiction going next door, and duty-free purchases). Well, they don’t like it. At all. They cite numbers that the unrecorded types make up more than a fifth of all alcohol consumed globally. And up to almost 40% in low and middle income countries. That’s a lot of alcohol. And they want it stopped, so they want nations to “craft policies capable of affecting its consumption.” By “asserting greater control over the supply chain, using fiscal markings, electronic surveillance systems and increased enforcement.” Since they consider it to be “not simply a tax issue but one involving broader governance challenges. And they assert that it is “associated with organized crime and corruption, which may fuel criminal activities in other areas.”

And because alcohol is, overall, harmful, and since unregulated home brews (more than 1.5 million in the US alone) and homemade wine making (over half a million hobbyists in North America) and hone distilling (numbers unavailable) puts production out of reach of any future measures by government to control it through taxation, it may have to go away. So make-them-and-drink-them, while you can, because they may be going away, some day soon.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yet another vapid opinion from the who.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Yet another vapid opinion from the who.

Do you think public health related measures can only be effective if entertaining and exciting?

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

I won't drink to that.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

What is man kinds obsession with alcohol? I have never touched the stuff or ever will, I do not need it to make me feel good.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

If you just pay a little more in taxes, the government will solve all ills from global warming to obesity.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

When are these guys gonna pipe down? I guarantee a 3 or 4 day work week, UBI or 6 hour work days would do a lot more for reducing alcohol intake than making it more expensive. But obviously people's overall health isn't the goal and whoever has lined the pockets of these WHO hacks would love higher taxes.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Keep jacking it up, I stopped drinking alcohol almost completely.

One can of beer here cost as much as the container of milk I just bought.

Don’t you dare doubling the weed taxes though, then I’ll get mad

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

No alcohol.... if you want to be popular and respected by all... that is not the way.

Alcohol consumpion is as old as humans are (some other mammals like elephants consume alcohol too, in their natural habitat by the way).

I am not sociologist nor biologist but some how I think alcohol plays an important part in both areas.

Of course over comsuption will cause problems, but so does consuming water in excess.

Consuming alcohol does good to your health, not much physically (although red wine does), but mentaly helps you to cope stress and relax.

There are so many "health" gurus out there pushing for all humanity to eat just vegetable, no alcohol, no sugar, no salt... but just ask how many of those people look happy or healthy?

Moreover, how many "healthy dietist" are able to keep that diet?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nicotine laden addictive drugs (cigs) are far worse for health and for bystanders to smokers. Alcohol, not so much.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Rudiger Krech, director of health promotion at the WHO, said taxing such products at a higher rate creates healthier populations.

"It has a positive ripple effect across society

It is noteworthy that he said that "minimum pricing," combined with taxation, would result in the "positive ripple effect.' Meaning that they want Nations to impose both price controls and higher taxes.

One other thing. I have sat in a room where advocates spoke to legislators, wanting them to impose taxes for various reasons on various segments of society. On one occasion, the particular topic was hiking smokeless taxes. They presented evidence showing that since percent tax resulted in __ fewer cases of (I honestly don't remember what they said), SO, they said, it stands to reason that if that percent has ___ benefit, than a full five percent increase (what they were seeking) would have a much higher benefit impact (you should have seen their huge splinearea poster). And they earnestly downplayed any economic impact - especially to small businesses - while playing up the fiscal revenue side of their argument.

My point here is that advocates of taxes and price controls - for a societal beneficial reason - will be back, time after time, seeking more taxes and higher price control thresholds. For the good of the many.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Folk will just cut the amount of money they spend on healthy food to offset the rises. And hate their government a bit more for the price hikes.

Most scientists know a lot about science but absolutely nothing about people. Something that became all too clear in the pandemic.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The WHO is talking about a matter way out of its lane.

It has already failed the world with the malaria, monkeypox, and HPV disasters. Now it want to talk about alcohol? Get real.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Folk will just cut the amount of money they spend on healthy food to offset the rises.

That would be a claim that would have evidence to prove it,

Most scientists know a lot about science but absolutely nothing about people.

You understand that scientists involved in public health also include those specialized in understanding human society as well, right?

What alternative measure could you give that would have an effect comparable with the one described in the article? just saying that there is nothing to do is of course not a valid solution.

The WHO is talking about a matter way out of its lane.

Of course not, alcohol consumption is closely related with many public health problems, so obviously it is in the scope of activity of the global authority in public health issues

It has already failed the world with the malaria, monkeypox, and HPV disasters. Now it want to talk about alcohol? Get real.

That is completely incorrect even if you like to make this baseless claim. No other institution has made as much against all these diseases in a global scale than the WHO, so pretending it must have an infinite amount of resources in order to magically solve completely every problem is not a valid argument to say it has failed, if that were the case then everybody else would have failed in a much bigger way.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

*to increase taxes on alcoholic drinks and impose them on products that are currently exempt, such as wine in some European countries.*

What a loony idea.

600,000 people a year die from malaria. How about the WHO trying to do something about that? Or, do something that is not a failed program, which has been the case.

You understand that scientists involved in public health also include those specialized in understanding human society as well, right?

Because you say so, or want it to be so? This is just your personal opinion based on nothing scientific.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

What a loony idea.

What is loony about it? you are still making no argument, just claiming things without any reference or logical process to prove it. Obviously you can't make an appeal to your own authority so the claim remains baseless.

600,000 people a year die from malaria

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/alcohol

Worldwide, 3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol. This represents 5.3% of all deaths.

According to the evidence alcohol consumption is a much more important priority than malaria.

 How about the WHO trying to do something about that?

Again, the WHO is the public health authority that does more against Malaria than any other institution of the planet. According to this standard that would make it the least organization that could be said to fail in this aspect.

Because you say so, or want it to be so?  This is just your personal opinion based on nothing scientific.

No, because it is a well known fact, is your argument that this is false or is your argument that you ignored this to be the case? Because it is very easy to prove it, and ignoring something is not an argument to prove that thing you ignore is false.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/027321701300201975

current trends in public health research have opened a wider variety of opportunities for sociologists to contribute to public health research.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What is loony about it? you are still making no argument, just claiming things without any reference or logical process to prove it. Obviously you can't make an appeal to your own authority so the claim remains baseless.

The WHO whining about taxes on alcohol.

According to the experts, the WHO needs to try and solve problems it has failed at before like the malaria, HPV, and monkeypox problems.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The WHO whining about taxes on alcohol

There is nothing loony about it, as easy to see as you could not make even one argument against this, which is a clear priority on public health.

According to the experts, the WHO needs to try and solve problems it has failed at before like the malaria, HPV, and monkeypox problems.

Again, pretending any organization should just use infinite amount of resources to magically solve problems is not a criticism, is just a personal bias. Since nobody has done even as much as the WHO for global problems then that is not failing. This is just as the other claims you made that you could not defend.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I can limit my alcohol consumption just fine!

I don’t need more taxes to help me do that…

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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