International context of alcohol policy

Thomas Babor, Harold Holder, Raul Caetano, Ross Homel, Sally Casswell, Michael Livingston, Griffith Edwards, Esa Österberg, Norman Giesbrecht, Jürgen Rehm, Kathryn Graham, Robin Room, Joel Grube, Ingeborg Rossow and Linda Hill

in Alcohol: No Ordinary Commodity

Second edition

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199551149
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191720642 | DOI:
International context of alcohol policy

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In recent decades the operating assumption in international agreements has been to treat alcoholic beverages as ordinary commodities like bread and milk or coffee and tea. In a world of increasing international trade and globalization of the alcohol industry, this has meant that national and local alcohol control policies have increasingly come under pressure because of decisions at the international level. This chapter describes how these pressures have arisen and how they affect national and local alcohol policies and the prospects for alcohol control at the international level. It is argued that the current situation in international trade and market regimes can be changed by purposive action in the interests of public health and social welfare. Much of the material on which this chapter is based comes from the European Union (EU), but the lessons learned from the European countries are relevant to other parts of the world as well. To deal with the burden of illness resulting from alcohol, and to counter the view that alcohol is an ordinary commodity, public health organizations have begun to formulate strategies and interventions that can be used by governments to protect the health of their populations. The final part of the chapter discusses the role of the World Health Organization in providing a broader perspective on the international context of alcohol policies.

Keywords: alcohol policy; alcoholic beverages; alcohol trade; international trade agreements; economic treaties

Chapter.  6651 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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