Global Alcohol Policy Conference Declaration
On 7-9 October 850 parliamentarians, government officials, researchers, community leaders and civil society representatives from 55 countries gathered in the South Korean capital, at the third Global Alcohol Policy Conference.
The conference has adopted the following declaration:
We, the participants of the second Global Alcohol Policy Conference "From Local and National Action to Global Change", gathered in Seoul, Korea on7‐9 October 2013,
Reaffirm that the WHO Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol endorsed by the World Health Assembly in May 2010 is the main policy framework in setting forth principles and priority areas for action at global level and providing a portfolio of policy options and measures that could be considered for implementation at national and local levels, in accordance with World Health Assembly resolution 63.13;
Reaffirm the overarching principles of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013‐2020 adopted at the World Health Assembly in May 2013, particularly the importance of empowerment of peoples and communities, evidence‐based strategies, multisectoral action, and the management of real, perceived or potential conflicts of interest; as well as the need to reduce modifiable risk factors for noncommunicable diseases and underlying social determinants through creation of health‐promoting environments; the voluntary global target of achieving at least a 10% relative reduction in the harmful use of alcohol within each national context; and the adoption of the indicators of total (recorded and unrecorded) per capita consumption (aged 15+ years old) consumption within a calendar year in litres of pure alcohol; age‐standardized prevalence of heavy episodic drinking among adolescents and adults; and alcohol‐related morbidity and mortality among adolescents and adults, all as appropriate within the national context;
Recall and reaffirm the Statement of Concern signed by more than 500 individuals and organizations from around the world, calling on alcohol companies to refrain from further lobbying against effective public health measures, and from further engagement in health‐related prevention, treatment, and traffic safety activities;
Express good will and strong commitment to support the implementation of the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol at all levels;
Recognize that the Global Strategy provides the opportunity for sustained action in implementation of effective and evidence‐based strategies to reduce the alcohol‐related health and social burden throughout the world;
Note that the Conference has mobilised representatives of governmental sectors, non‐governmental organisations, researchers and community leaders from all over the world to promote and support action to continue to fulfil the Global Strategy’s vision of improved health and social outcomes for individuals, families, communities and societies at large by reducing the harmful use of alcohol.
RATIONALE FOR ACTION
Globally, alcohol consumption is the fifth leading risk factor for death and disability, the third leading risk factor for males and the 12 leading risk factor for females. Alcohol is the leading cause of death and disability among persons aged 15 to 24 in every region of the world except the Eastern Mediterranean. While alcohol’s burden is greater in better‐resourced countries, it is also clear that harmful use of alcohol and related consequences tend to rise with national incomes and national development and thus the development of strong alcohol control policies are an essential task in low‐ and middle‐income countries.
More than half of deaths due to the harmful use of alcohol occur from noncommunicable diseases, including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, liver cirrhosis and alcohol dependence. The Political Declaration of the High‐level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases recognized the critical importance of reducing the harmful use of alcohol as part of the global response to noncommunicable diseases.
Alcohol‐related injuries, including those resulting from road traffic crashes and interpersonal violence, cause a significant public health burden. In addition, evidence continues to mount documenting the role of harmful use of alcohol in infectious diseases such as HIV and TB. There is a growing world wide concern and urgent need for action regarding the increasing culture of drinking and heavy episodic drinking among young people and women of childbearing age.
Alcohol is a psychoactive substance with a potential for abuse comparable to that of other dependence‐ producing substances under international control, and its consumption may lead to a range of negative health effects, including life‐threatening intoxication, teratogenic effects and alcohol dependence. Alcohol is increasingly recognized as a commodity that requires appropriate consideration by parties in international, regional and bilateral trade negotiations to account for public health concerns.
Harmful use of alcohol leads to increased burden on individuals, families and communities, including impoverishment of women and men from treatment and care costs, loss of productivity and household income, loss of decent work and employment, thus making the harmful use of alcohol a contributing factor to poverty and hunger, which may have a direct impact on the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.
Evidence‐based and cost‐effective interventions exist to reduce the harmful use of alcohol at global, national and local levels. These interventions, when implemented and enforced, could have profound health, social and economic benefits throughout the world. Examples of cost‐effective interventions to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, which are affordable in low‐income countries, include measures to raise taxes on alcohol, restrict access to retailed alcohol, and enforce bans and restrictions on alcohol advertising and marketing. These "best buys" have significant public health impact, and are highly cost‐ effective, inexpensive and feasible to implement.
Particular attention should be paid to pricing policies and the potential to increase taxation on alcohol: these reduce consumption, prevent ill‐health and increase the resources governments can specifically designate for health and prevention and treatment of alcohol use disorders.
CALL TO ACTION
We, therefore, call on intergovernmental agencies, NGO networks, national and local governments, academia, civil society, professional organizations, communities, and individuals, at all levels to take action by:
At the national and local level
1. Supporting, strengthening and integrating into the national development agenda the evidence‐based interventions outlined in the Global Strategy, and especially the three “best buys” controlling physical availability, restricting marketing, and raising the price of alcohol, in order to make our communities safer and individuals healthier, and to protect those at risk from harmful use of alcohol by others.
2. Increasing, prioritizing and supporting budgetary allocations for reducing the harmful use of alcohol at the national level, and exploring the provision of adequate, predictable and sustained financial resources for preventing and reducing the harmful use of alcohol and associated public health problems through domestic innovative financing mechanisms, including raising excise taxes or establishing an additional surcharge on alcoholic beverages and other unhealthy products and establishing a health promotion agency to carry out research and public health advocacy in support of cost effective interventions to reduce harmful use of alcohol and to identify and treat those with alcohol use disorders.
3. Establishing the strongest possible statutory restrictions on alcohol marketing of all kinds, in recognition of the growing body of literature linking youth exposure to alcohol marketing with increased likelihood of early initiation of alcohol use, which in turn is linked to greater likelihood of adverse consequences of alcohol use including injury and dependence.
4. Strengthening efforts of civil society groups and organizations in reducing the harmful use of alcohol and implementation of the Global Strategy at the national and local level. Civil society organizations that are independent from the alcoholic beverage industry and free from conflict of interest have an important role to play in engaging with governments and advocating for effective alcohol control policies.
5. Establishing and strengthening country‐level surveillance and monitoring systems using indicators, definitions and data‐collection procedures compatible with WHO information systems on alcohol and health, including periodic national surveys that are integrated into existing national health information systems and include measures of alcohol consumption and alcohol‐related harm such as adult per capita alcohol consumption, recognizing that such systems and measures are critical for advocacy, policy development and evaluation purposes. Results of monitoring and evaluation should be made available to the general public in order to sustain and advance public health agendas on reducing harmful use of alcohol at national and local levels.
At the international level:
6. Exploring the provision of adequate, predictable and sustained resources for implementation of the WHO Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol at the global level through bilateral and multilateral channels, including traditional and voluntary innovative financing mechanisms.
7. Supporting collaboration of WHO, as the lead United Nations specialized agency for health, with countries in scaling up implementation of the Global Strategy at all levels and strengthening national efforts to reduce the harmful use of alcohol as well as in assessing and monitoring progress made.
8. Developing effective global governance for reducing the harmful use of alcohol in the context of implementation of the Global Strategy at all levels taking into consideration current experience in addressing other risk factors for noncommunicable diseases including tobacco use, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity.
9. Ensuring that global economic agreements do not undercut, invalidate or in other ways limit national efforts to establish and enforce evidence‐based policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, including government monopolies on alcohol distribution, minimum pricing and health‐oriented taxation, and restrictions on physical availability and marketing;
10. Mobilizing global social movements and support of civil society groups and organizations bringing together alcohol policy activists, youth and youth related agencies, professionals, scientists, consumers and others for joint advocacy activities in support of effective alcohol control policies and implementation of the Global Strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.
11. Calling upon the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA) and its regional affiliates, as well as other relevant international associations and organizations to strengthen the networking, information sharing and collaboration among civil society and professionals organizations for reducing the harmful use of alcohol in line with the aims, objectives and the guiding principles of the Global Strategy.
12. Acknowledging the contribution of international cooperation and assistance in reducing the harmful use of alcohol and, in this regard, encouraging the inclusion of the goal of reducing harmful use of alcohol in development cooperation agendas and initiatives, including initiatives to fight poverty, build democratic societies, halt and reverse the spread of HIV and TB, empower women, reduce crime and violence, grow national capacities, address noncommunicable diseases, and improve road safety.
13. Including prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases and their risk factors, including the harmful use of alcohol, in discussions of the substantive process that will lead to the definition of a United Nations development agenda post‐2015 and revision of the Millenium Development Goals.