Alcohol kills millions a year, WHO says

A World Health Organization report finds that alcohol is killing or contributing to the deaths of 3.3 million people around the world every year. (World Health Organization)

A World Health Organization report finds that alcohol is killing or contributing to the deaths of 3.3 million people around the world every year. (World Health Organization) Staff

Published Monday, May 12, 2014 9:20AM EDT 

Last Updated Monday, May 12, 2014 2:26PM EDT

The World Health Organization is calling on governments around the world to take tougher action, in a new report that says alcohol is killing or contributing to the deaths of 3.3 million people a year.

“More needs to be done to protect populations from the negative health consequences of alcohol consumption,” Dr. Oleg Chestnov, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health said in a statement Monday, to coincide with the release of a new report.

In its “Global status report on alcohol and health 2014“, the WHO notes that alcohol can not only lead to violence and injuries, it also increases the risk of more than 200 diseases, including liver cirrhosis and several types of cancers.

The report found that 7.6 per cent of men’s deaths around the world are related to alcohol, as are 4 per cent of women’s deaths. The authors say they are also concerned about the steady increase in alcohol among women.

Alcohol causes death and disability relatively early in life, the report says. Approximately 25 per cent of deaths among those aged age group 20 to 39 can be attributed to alcohol.

The report found that on average, every person in the world over the age of 15 drinks 6.2 litres of pure alcohol per year. But since less than half the world’s population drinks at all — 38.3 per cent — those who do drink consume 17 litres of pure alcohol a year, on average.

“We found that worldwide about 16 per cent of drinkers engage in heavy episodic drinking – often referred to as ‘binge-drinking’ — which is the most harmful to health,” explains Dr Shekhar Saxena, director for Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO.

Globally, Europe has the highest consumption of alcohol per capita. South-East Asia and the Western Pacific are seeing increases in consumption, while in the Americas and Africa, consumption trends are stable.

The report notes that some of the 194 countries it reviewed already have several measures in place to try to protect people from the risks of alcohol. But many don’t have national awareness activities to remind citizens of the risks of drinking. And many more don’t have national policies aimed at reducing the harmful use of alcohol.

The report says all governments have a responsibility to implement and enforce public policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, including:

  • regulating the sale of alcohol, in particular to younger people
  •  enacting drink-driving policies
  • reducing demand through taxation and pricing
  • raising awareness of public health problems caused by harmful use of alcohol
  • providing affordable treatment for people with alcohol-use disorders

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THE POSTER PROJECT is a celebration of the maker spirit.

We invited illustrators and designers from around the world to contribute, giving each an inspiring line and simple color palette. They worked to bring these beautiful posters to life.

We’re going to reveal them over the course of May and sell limited editions of 50 each in June.


100% of proceeds are going to the visual and silkscreen artists.



the poster project - baronfig

Illustratoin by Jen Mussari

Illustratoin by Jen Mussari



Everything we’ve been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years is dead wrong.

FED UP is the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see.

From Katie Couric, Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH) and director Stephanie Soechtig, FED UP will change the way you eat forever.

The film opens in theaters across the country on May 9th.

Beverage tax ‘to fight alcohol abuse’

BY LINDA ENSOR, 06 MAY 2014, 08:48

A MAJOR review of the taxation of alcoholic beverages being undertaken by the Treasury as a contribution to the government’s fight against alcohol abuse is likely to result in higher taxes and prices.

The industry, faced with a deluge of regulatory proposals, is likely to resist the Treasury’s suggestions as it believes it is already overtaxed.

It is also having to fight off a proposed ban on liquor advertising, which Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is pushing for, as well as restricted trading hours.

Tougher law enforcement and stiffer penalties for drinking and driving have also been introduced.

The Treasury believes alcohol abuse in South Africa is “unacceptably high” and has to be reduced as “an urgent national priority for government”, not only because of its social consequences but also because it places too heavy a burden on the fiscus and on non-drinking taxpayers.

But it cautioned in a discussion document released on Monday that tax increases could not be so high that they drive heavy drinkers to illicit or more harmful alcohol.

In nominal terms, excise rates increased between 2002-03 and 2013-14 by 149% for beer, 233% for wine and 234% for spirits.

The inflation rate increased by a cumulative 62% over the same period. In 2012-13, the duties generated about R14bn for the fiscus.

Currently, the total tax (excise duties plus value-added tax — VAT) on beer, wine and spirits as a percentage of their weighted average retail selling prices is set at 23%, 35%, and 48% respectively.

The Treasury argued in its discussion paper that some of the social costs of alcohol abuse needed to be included in the price of the product. However, it was not sure whether the current system of excise duty was the correct mechanism for this.

It noted that the external costs that were associated with alcohol abuse were borne by the broader society due to the inability of liquor markets to adequately internalise — and price — for them.

In 2009-10 the national government allocated more than R10bn and provincial governments about R7bn to deal with the direct consequences of alcohol abuse, reduce the extent of such abuse and address its negative social impact.

After the revenue from excise duties on alcoholic beverages, VAT collected on alcohol sales and provincial liquor licences, net alcohol-related expenditure of about R890m had to be funded by the fiscus.

This did not take into account the expenditure incurred by municipalities, and the tangible and intangible costs of alcohol abuse for society, which have been estimated to be as high as R38bn and R243bn respectively in 2009.

“If excise taxation were to fully internalise the external costs of alcohol abuse, excise duties on alcoholic beverages would need to increase significantly,” the Treasury’s discussion document said. “However, higher excise rates may exacerbate social problems arising from excessive alcohol consumption as heavy drinkers turn to cheaper, or illicit, alcoholic beverages.”

The public has been given until June 30 to comment.

Sales of alcoholic beverages grow to $21.4 billion: Statistics Canada

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The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, April 10, 2014 11:31AM EDT 

OTTAWA – Statistics Canada says Canadians spent $21.4 billion on alcoholic beverages in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, up 2.2 per cent from the previous year.

The agency says beer remained the favourite tipple, with $9.1 billion in sales, but that was down 0.1 per cent compared with a year earlier.

Wine sales grew by 4.9 per cent in 2013 to $6.8 billion, while sales of spirits were up 2.9 per cent to $5.4 billion.

By volume, beer sales totalled 2.3 billion litres for the year. The volume of domestic beer sold fell 1.7 per cent to 2.0 billion litres, while the volume of imported beer dropped 3.8 per cent to 300 million litres.

The volume of wine sold increased 3.9 per cent to 506.6 million litres, while the volume of spirits sold rose 2.7 per cent to 222.4 million litres.

Beer sales for the year amounted to 78 litres per person, down from 83.6 litres in 2003, while wine sales on a per-capita basis amounted to 17.4 litres, up 4.3 litres per person in 2003.

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