How to halt yearly 10.6m deaths from alcohol, sugary drinks – WHO

By Nudoiba Ojen

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that globally 2.6 million people die from drinking alcohol every year and over eight million from an unhealthy diet.

WHO says that to halt the trend, there is need for governments to increase taxes on alcohol and Sugary-Sweetened Beverages (SSB) to reduce deaths from drinking alcohol and unhealthy behaviours.

The WHO in a press statement, says that implementing a tax on alcohol and SSBs will reduce these deaths.

WHO Director for Health Promotion, Dr Rűdiger Krech, said, “Taxing unhealthy products creates healthier populations. It has a positive ripple effect across society – less disease and debilitation and revenue for governments to provide public services. In the case of alcohol, taxes also help prevent violence and road traffic injuries.

“Research shows that taxing alcohol and SSBs helps cut down the use of these products and gives companies a reason to make healthier products. At the same time, tax on these products helps prevent injuries and non-communicable diseases such as cancers, diabetes and heart diseases.

“A recent Gallup Poll conducted in collaboration with WHO and Bloomberg Philanthropies found that the majority of people surveyed across all countries supported increasing taxes on unhealthy products such as alcohol and SSBs.

“WHO recommends that excise tax should apply to all SSBs and alcoholic beverages,” it added.

The organisation said that countries like Lithuania, which increased alcohol tax in 2017 to drive down consumption have decreased deaths from alcohol-related diseases.

“Lithuania increased alcohol tax revenue from 234 million euros in 2016 to 323 million euros in 2018 and saw alcohol-related deaths drop from 23.4 per 100,000 people in 2016 to 18.1 per 100,000 people in 2018″.

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