UN to “regulate” Alcohol?

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Deadly Alcohol Needs Global Regulation, Health Expert Says
By Christopher Wanjek


When considering the world’s worst killers, alcohol likely doesn’t come to mind. Yet alcohol kills more than 2.5 million people annually, more than AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis.

For middle-income people, who constitute half the world’s population, alcohol is the top health risk factor, greater than obesity, inactivity and even tobacco.

The World Health Organization has meticulously documented the extent of alcohol abuse in recent years and has published solid recommendations on how to reduce alcohol-related deaths, but this doesn’t go far enough, according to Devi Sridhar, a health-policy expert at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

In a commentary appearing today (Feb. 15) in the journal Nature, Sridhar argues that the WHO should regulate alcohol at the global level, enforcing such regulations as a minimum drinking age, zero-tolerance drunken driving, and bans on unlimited drink specials. Abiding by the regulations would be mandatory for the WHO’s 194 member states.

Far from prohibition, the WHO regulations would force nations to strengthen weak drinking laws and better enforce laws already in place, Sridhar says.

Alcohol consumption is measured in terms of pure ethyl alcohol to compensate for the varying strengths of beer, wine and spirits. A liter bottle of wine with 10 percent alcohol, for example, would be only 0.1 liter of pure alcohol. According to the WHO, Americans each drink 9.4 liters of ethyl alcohol per year on average. That’s equivalent to 94 bottles of the aforementioned wine. [See list of top 20 booze-consuming countries]

As high as that might sound, Americans don’t even crack the top 50 on the world charts. Europe, in particular Eastern Europe, dominates the drinking scene. Moldova has the top drinkers, downing 18.4 liters of alcohol per capita yearly. That’s equivalent to 184 1-liter bottles of wine, or nearly four bottles a week per person. The legal drinking age in Moldova is 16, and there are few restrictions on when or where alcohol can be sold.

The price of such alcohol abuse is early death. One in five men in the Russian Federation and neighboring European countries dies as a result of alcohol, according to WHO data. Alcohol abuse is associated with cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, various cancers, violence and vehicle accidents. Alcoholic adults have difficulty working and supporting their families, too.

Sridhar argues that the WHO is unique among health organizations in that it can create legally binding conventions. The WHO has done this only twice in its 64-year history: the International Health Regulations, which require countries to report certain disease outbreaks and public-health events; and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which commits governments to making legislative moves to reduce the demand for, and the supply of, tobacco.

No other entity can attack the global problem of alcohol abuse, she said. When it comes to alcohol, though, the WHO has settled on merely recommendations, such as those outlined in the 2010 WHO Global Strategy to Reduce Harmful Use of Alcohol.

“Countries are aware of the problem, but several haven’t made a real commitment to implementing the recommendations,” Sridhar told LiveScience. “The problem is not with ministries of health but with ministries of finance, trade, etc. who prioritize other interests first.”

In her Nature commentary, Sridhar said that the existing WHO recommendations could serve as the framework for a new international convention on alcohol regulation. Yet even the United States would struggle to meet several of the 10 recommended target areas, which include advertising restrictions, price hikes and tougher laws against drunken driving.

“Ministries of health would have a stronger domestic negotiating position in prioritizing alcohol regulation above economic concerns,” with the WHO muscle behind them, she wrote.

Christopher Wanjek is the author of the books “Bad Medicine” and “Food At Work.” His column, Bad Medicine, appears regularly on LiveScience.


  1. I do not want the UN to regulate alcohol.

    The UN changed from my memory of it. I thought it was an organization to promote peace and better relations between nations.

    I do not need another nanny state on top of the ones I currently have in the USA.

    The blue hats have caused their fair share of misery over the years.

    • Mithrandir, the UN was never anything other than a tool for the elite to establish world government. Its predecessor, the League of Nations, was exposed for what it really was to the American people and rightfully “deep sixed” (as it should have been). But the tireless elitists (think Rockefeller & Rothschild, check out the founding of the De Beers diamond dynasty) don’t give up easily or even across generations.

      These folks lust for power. They are always able to find protégés or produce offspring eager to pick up their standard and march on through time. They are very much aware that true power (as Chairman Mao pointed out) flows from the barrel of a gun. By extension, one must have a lot of money in order to have a lot of men with guns and consequently the power that goes along with this. Which brings us back to the truism from one particular old Book; “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. See whosoever controls the most money and you will see who loves it the most and will stop at nothing, including pure evil, to acquire and retain it.

      One of these men, John D. Rockefeller Jr., donated the site in Manhattan for the United Nations headquarters building. In 1946 that land was only valued at a paltry $8.5M. To put that in perspective, that would be $101,198,000 in 2012 “dollars”. In an agreement with the U.S. government that land was declared “international territory”. If you intend to rule the world, you have to start somewhere and NYC is as good a place as any I suppose. And the guns of “the blue hats” (as you put) it are as good a way as any to accomplish that nefarious goal.

      Stay tuned; if they take out Iran and WW III rages, when the smoke clears the obvious solution to this “deadly nationalism” will be consolidating all nations under one big blue banner. They’ll also propose to solve all of our economic problems with a single fiat currency. This will all be done for “our own protection” and of course, “for the children”. Our own clover(s) will probably cheer it on.


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