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British Perspective on Alcohol Problems in Relations to European Community Policy

NCJ Number
British Journal of Addiction Volume: 85 Issue: 5 Dated: (May 1990) Pages: 677-681
B Braine
Date Published
5 pages
The policies of the European Community, promoting the marketing of wine and other alcoholic beverages, contradicts the commitment by Great Britain to substantially reduce its citizens' alcohol consumption, which is among the lowest in the Community. However, British alcohol consumption has increased almost 100 percent in the past 30 years, and the rate of alcohol harm has increased commensurately due to increased affluence, greater mobility, and increased foreign travel.
The two strategies for controlling alcohol consumption practiced by the British government have been education and fiscal policy. The European Community's aim of creating an integrated European market includes the harmonization of value added taxes and excise duty. The result will be that prices for alcoholic beverages will drop in Britain and several other countries. Experts estimate that this move will increase alcohol consumption by 39 percent in Britain alone and may have disastrous consequences for British public health and well-being. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer has suggested that tax harmonization should not apply to alcohol or tobacco products. Although other countries have economic reasons for favoring total harmonization, this subject should also be governed by its social and health implications. The debate may cause the European Community members to focus on the need for coherent alcohol control policies. The following agenda is recommended: monitoring production levels across the Community, setting excise duties according to inflation, developing health education programs aimed at changing public attitudes and drinking behaviors of at-risk groups, taxing alcohol-related advertising and sponsorship, harmonizing and enforcing drink-driving laws, and promoting non- or low-alcohol beverages. (Author abstract modified)


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