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Sunday 10 December 2023

WHO targets alcohol industry

The World Health Organisation (WHO) this week called for increased taxes on alcoholic beverages, particularly targeting wine.

The WHO issued at statement urging countries to increase taxes on what it called “unhealthy products” including alcohol and sweetened beverages (SSBs).

Alcoholic beverages are estimated to have caused 2.6 million deaths globally per year, the UN-backed organisation said.

It singled out wine as a main alcoholic beverage exempted from excise taxes - mainly in Europe, home to the world’s biggest wine producers and main wine consumption markets.

The WHO says at least 148 countries have applied excise taxes to alcoholic beverages at the national level. “However, wine is exempted from excise taxes in at least 22 countries, most of which are in the European region,” it says.

Citing a 2017 study, WHO says that taxes that increase alcohol prices by 50% would help avert over 21 million deaths over 50 years and generate nearly SUS17 trillion in additional revenues.

Half of all countries taxing SSBs are also taxing water, which is not recommended by WHO.

“Taxing unhealthy products creates healthier populations," says Dr Rűdiger Krech, director of Health Promotion for the WHO.

"It has a positive ripple effect across society - less disease and debilitation and revenue for governments to provide public services.

"In the case of alcohol, taxes also help prevent violence and road traffic injuries.”

Countries like Lithuania, that increased alcohol tax in 2017 to drive down consumption have decreased deaths from alcohol-related diseases, the WHO says.

It also says research shows that taxing alcohol and SSBs helps cut down use of these products and gives companies a reason to make healthier products. While at the same time tax on these products help prevent injuries and noncommunicable diseases such as cancers, diabetes and heart diseases

Image: Louw Lemmer,

1 comment:

  1. "In the case of alcohol, taxes also help prevent violence and road traffic injuries.” - that has to be one of the stupidest claims I've ever heard