Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
 

Editor's Letter

 

WHO's View on Alcohol and Health

October 2009
 
by Jim Gordon
 
 
While grapegrowers and winemakers are laboring through the immediate, urgent challenges of the 2009 crush, their advocates in Washington, D.C., are facing less urgent, but no less important issues. One of those is an effort by the World Health Organization to write a "Global Strategy to Reduce Harmful Use of Alcohol."

The WHO is a respected branch of the United Nations, and as such its views on alcohol could become very influential in public policy for decades to come. A draft of the WHO strategy, now circulating, gives reasons for both hope and alarm. The alarm comes from excited passages like the following that seem to show an antagonistic approach to the industry:

"Alcohol is, however, a toxic and psychoactive substance that can lead to dependence, and its harmful use has serious effects on public health."

"Harmful use of alcohol is one of the main risk factors for poor health globally. It compromises both individual and social development. It can ruin the lives of individuals, devastate families and damage the fabric of communities."

The authors go on to suggest measures that they believe will control harmful alcohol use by reducing its consumption. These include--no surprise to vintners who have followed these issues before--higher taxes to slow consumption, a lower blood-alcohol limit (.05%) for impaired driving, and restrictions or bans on marketing.

One industry advocate who has studied the draft closely is Bill Nelson, president of WineAmerica, the national association of American wineries. Nelson and his staff just moved into a new office in D.C., though he is at home in wine country, too, having been a winemaker and enology consultant in Oregon before becoming a lobbyist.

Nelson writes in his September newsletter: "The glass-half-full part is that there are no draconian neo-Prohibitionist recommendations--at least not yet. The half-empty part is that the old shibboleths like controlling availability, raising taxes, lowering driving blood-alcohol content allowances and curtailing marketing all make an appearance in the document."

He points out that the WHO draft doesn't emphasize enough the difference between abusers and moderate drinkers. This blurring may mean that measures recommended by WHO to battle abuse could backfire and result in overall worse health for countries that adopt them. The idea of a sin tax that makes alcohol too expensive for abusers to buy, and thus reduces abuse, is an old one. It's been a major weapon in the war against tobacco, and some legislators and other policymakers still don't mind lumping together wine and cigarettes.

However, Nelson states that researchers continue to have doubts about this approach. He cites a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research called Sin Taxes: Do Heterogeneous Responses Undercut Their Value? It suggests that "higher prices could fail to curb drinking by those most likely to cause negative externalities."

What if the drinkers most deterred by higher prices and restrictions on marketing turn out to be the moderate ones--the ones whose consumption has been positively linked again and again in health studies with lower rates of heart disease and longer life spans? In other words, an important policy being pondered by the World Health Organization might backfire, and the world's health could suffer. That's a possibility to be avoided.

The hopeful part of the draft contains more realistic language like this: "Harm-reduction measures have the potential to prevent and reduce the negative consequences from alcohol consumption without specifically aiming at--nor necessarily reducing--the consumption of alcohol itself." This sounds quite a bit milder than the "dry" movement of the early 1900s and of the Prohibitionist revival in the 1980s.

Still, it gives wine industry lobbyists like Nelson, his colleagues from California's Wine Institute, various other state winegrower groups and, one hopes, all legislators from North American vineyard regions, something serious to think about. They have only a few months to react to the WHO document and make it more realistic for wine producers and helpful to wine consumers. Final adoption is scheduled for May 2010.
 
SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
 
SEE OTHER EDITIONS OF THIS COLUMN ï¿½ CURRENT COLUMN ARTICLES »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
October 2014 $570 million
6%
$7,775 million
6%
October 2013 $539 million $7,342 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
October 2014 $284 million
18%
$1,751 million
13%
October 2013 $240 million $1,556 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
October 2014 139
6%
226
18%
October 2013 131 192
     
 
MORE » Released on 11.13.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • November 16-23
     
    San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival
     
  • November 19-23
     
    Flavor! Napa Valley
     
  • November 20-22
     
    Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival
     
  • November 24-25
     
    World Bulk Wine Exhibition
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Kluge Saga Continues in Virginia »
 
Not everybody likes Pat Kluge, but she and Moses built a first class winery /...
Reader: Josh Moser
 
Article: Canada Adapts to Kegged Wines »
 
I am a wine agent in Manitoba & there certainly are kegs of cider here....
Reader: Guest
 
Article: What's Your Winery's IP Worth? »
 
If you would like more information on this seminar please visit The Seminar Group's website....
Reader: Danielle Bingham
 
Article: DtC Is Lifeblood of Wineries, Banker Says »
 
Seems like another locical option would be to have more small niche distrbutors. Consolidation of...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Tasting Wine From PD-Resistant Grapes »
 
Congratulations Andy! Lots of grapebreeders and southern growers will be looking through the catalogs. i...
Reader: Guest
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Tasting Room Associate
 Angwin, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Viticulturist 1 (Grape...
 Modesto, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Assistant Winemaker
 Healdsburg, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Cellar Worker 3
 Napa, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Market Sales Manager
 San Diego, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Pernod Ricard Retail A...
 Cheyenne, WY
Sales and Marketing
 Sales Consultants
 Fairfield & New Haven Counties, CT
Sales and Marketing
 Territory Sales Repres...
 Monterey, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Fine Wine And Spirits ...
 New York, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Accounting Clerk
 King City, CA
Finance
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.