PAHO/WHO Launches New Technical Note
Technical note: Background on alcohol marketing regulation and monitoring for the protection of public health
Countries can improve public health by regulating the marketing of alcoholic beverages to reduce its consumption and related harms, and the Pan American Health Organization has developed new principles for countries to consider in developing these regulations.
The new Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) publication, “Technical note: Background on alcohol marketing regulation and monitoring for the protection of public health,” provides elements that governments can use to strengthen legal and regulatory frameworks that would help reduce or eliminate exposure to alcohol marketing.
Pervasive alcohol marketing in Americas
Alcohol marketing is widespread in the Americas, with modern marketing techniques that go beyond traditional print and electronic media advertisements to include branded merchandise, sponsorships of sporting teams and events, discount pricing, social media, and sales or supply at educational or health establishments.
Scientific evidence is clear
Substantial evidence now associates alcohol marketing with young people’s alcohol consumption behavior, according to the PAHO publication and the scientific journal Addiction.
Studies have found that the more young people are exposed to alcohol marketing, the more likely they are to start using alcohol earlier, and to consume more if they are already using alcohol. The harmful use of alcohol is one of the four most common preventable risk factors for major noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and an important risk factor for violence and injury. It also has an impact on other health conditions including HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, as well as on economic and social development.
The document is based on the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful use of Alcohol of the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the subsequent PAHO Regional Plan of Action. It complements a 2016 PAHO report on Alcohol Marketing Regulation, and was built in consultation with experts, representatives from several Member States and PAHO staff.
Ban alcohol advertising
The PAHO publication notes that a comprehensive ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship is likely the only way to eliminate risk of exposure for those most needing protection, such as youth and other vulnerable groups.
The new technical note provides evidence for arguments supporting alcohol marketing regulation, and suggests key elements that can be considered by countries in planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating effective regulation.
It also provides legislative language that can assist governments in developing or modifying existing laws and implementing monitoring mechanisms. It complements a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) report from an exploratory meeting on alcohol regulation held in January 2015 and is firmly based in the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful use of Alcohol of the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as the subsequent PAHO Regional Plan of Action, but also the WHO and PAHO plans of action for the prevention and control of Non Communicable Diseases, and PAHO resolutions on Health and Human Rights and the Strategy on Health Related Law.
The first draft was produced by PAHO technical staff and presented at a meeting held in July 2016, with experts and representatives from selected Member States. The final document was extensively revised by PAHO staff after the meeting, following suggestions made by participants.