“Tackling Harmful Alcohol Use.”

Dear friends,

Last week the OECD published “Tackling Harmful Alcohol Use.” This is a very important report!

IFBC works closely with EUROCARE regarding Alcohol Policy development and I want to encourage all of our members, friends and networks to use this information in your respective countries to lobby for alcohol to be included into ALL policies. You will find the link to the full report from OECD “Tackling Harmful Alcohol Use” here. IFBC’s alcohol policy training manual deals with all of these topics, it's a fantastic resource for creating policy in developing countries. You can download it here.

Effective measures that IFBC promotes, which are now also highlighted by OECD report.

> Regulating and restricting availability of alcoholic beverages;
       - Minimum legal purchase age,
       - Government monopoly of retail sales,
       - Restrictions on hours and days of sale,
> Reducing demand through alcohol taxation and pricing mechanisms;
       - Minimum tax rates for all alcoholic beverages
> Regulating the marketing of alcoholic beverages (in particular to younger people);
       - Legal restrictions on advertising and promotions,
> Enacting appropriate drink-driving policies;
       - Administrative license suspension,
       - Graduated licensing for novice drivers,
> Raising awareness and support for effective policies.
> Implementing screening programmes and brief interventions for hazardous and harmful use of alcohol.
       - Brief interventions with at-risk drinkers.

As the General Secretary for IFBC I want to highlight that it is essential that National Governments should consider Alcohol in all policies. In social and health policies the regulations on access to treatment, rehabilitation and other support services needs to be defined. If the process is not clear, it is very hard for implementing professionals to secure a treatment path for their clients. Also, national strategies on monitoring health issues should include alcohol and other substances in ordr to provide objective data to understand the local situation. Health and Social Ministries are also responsible for creating prevention strategies that cover the issues related to substance abuse.

Interior ministries are usually responsible for the security of the country and therefore substance abuse related crime and violence needs to be considered. In addition, harm to others is a serious safety issue in traffic and transport and in policies of protecting vulnerable people like children. The Global status report on Alcohol also shows that high level of various accidents are a result of substance abuse and the OECD report identifies the need to act.

Trade and finance ministries have the responsibility to create healthy markets where businesses pay their taxes and goods and services are appropriately priced and taxed. One of the proven methods of reducing alcohol related harm is to ensure that alcohol is not too cheap and that it is appropriately taxed, sold and marketed. Licensing, opening hours and marketing restrictions are essential part of good alcohol policy.

As you can see, alcohol relates to most policies and we as professionals in the field of substance abuse are directly affected by our national and local policies. There is no treatment service that can be effective for the individual unless the alcohol related policies create a safety net that supports the change. Blue Cross members are experts on service delivery or in other words, we are the organisations that implement alcohol policy in practice. Therefore, we must assist in creating the structures for a sustainable effective alcohol policy implementation.

I wish you much courage and enthusiasm to keep working on these important, life changing issues!

Yours,
Anne Babb