The World Health Organization (WHO) has published its 2011 Global status report on alcohol and health. Among the notable conclusions of this report is the figure of 2.5 million annual lives that are lost to alcohol abuse worldwide. Further noteworthy news from the report is that alcohol abuse is growing at alarming rates and consumption has increased drastically in both Asia and Africa. This, according to the WHO, is partly due to the fact that developing countries have less powerful regulations. Therefore the WHO calls for more effective measures, including stronger restrictions on alcohol marketing.
One of the chapters of the report focuses on alcohol advertising and marketing. This chapter says the most commonly used way to control alcohol advertising and marketing is not statutory rules but self-regulation or co-regulation. However, of all the WHO member states 41% reported to have no regulations, against 30% having either a full or partial ban for one or more beverage types. Among the WHO member states that participated in the survey for this report, most restrictions were found in Eastern Mediterranean, Nordic and South Asian countries.
A new trend, compared to earlier surveys in 2002 and 2008, shows that there was a statistically significant shift towards more restrictive measures. For example Belarus moved from a partial to a full ban on advertising for wine and spirits; Estonia shifted from a partial to a full ban on television of all beverages; and Kenya went from no restrictions to partial restrictions. The further development of restrictions was also seen through bans on product placement; restrictions of sports sponsorship; and restrictions on sales promotion in the form of sales below cost. However, the survey did not examine the enforcement of any of these restrictions.