Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Alcohol battle brewing


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THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (WHO) could be in for a fight with alcohol producers of the Caribbean and Latin America, who may reject a WHO plan to restrict the marketing, advertising and sale of alcohol products.This will be so once Noel daCosta,  head of the Global Alcohol Producers Group, an alliance of international alcoholic beverage producers, has his way in influencing stakeholders in the industry to collaborate on alternative measures to the WHO proposals.He told the SUNDAY SUN at a Press briefing recently at The Savannah Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church: “They came out with a strategy last month, and that strategy has a menu of options that countries could implement that would suit their particular context and cultural situations that would lead to a reduction in the harmful use of alcohol.”The strategy targeted ten areas, such as pricing and marketing of alcoholic beverages, around which countries were to formulate their own policies, but was too harsh. while encouraging stakeholders of the industry to move towards responsible self-regulation Global Alcohol Producers Group would lobby Latin American and Caribbean governments not to accept it, daCosta, who worked for Red Stripe Brewery for over 30 years, explained.“We are trying to get [governments] not to vote for a framework convention. “Many of the Caribbean countries are themselves producers of alcoholic beverages, and it’s a source of revenue for governments [through taxes]. “So they have a vested interest in what happens to the industry. “In some countries because of linkages to the sugar industry, it employs large numbers of people,” he said.He said that the health sector incurred significant costs over alcohol abuse, hence Global Alcohol Producers Group would promote robust responsibility among alcohol stakeholders and this was being done in Barbados through the proposed formation of the Barbados Beverage Alcohol Alliance.“Today we had a meeting with some of the major stakeholders in the alcohol beverage industry in Barbados with a view to forming a Barbados association. We have associations already working in St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and several other countries,” he added.daCosta, a corporate relations consultant of 15 years, said the self-regulatory policy that could be supported by government regulation would be viable once producers, distributors and retailers were themselves better educated on responsible drinking, serving and selling.“It does not necessarily mean a cutback in the volume of sales. We are trying to change the pattern in which people drink, change the way that they look at drinking and hopefully not reduce the volume of consumption,” he added. (SR)


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