WHO Demands Tax Increases on Alcohol and Sugar

WHO calls for global tax hikes on "unhealthy products", including wine.

Reading time: 1m

Improvement of health outcomes are expressed as 'Disability-Adjusted Life-Years' (Source: WHO/OECD)
Improvement of health outcomes are expressed as 'Disability-Adjusted Life-Years' (Source: WHO/OECD)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), taxes on "unhealthy products like alcohol and sugary drinks" are too low globally. It accuses most countries of not using taxes to encourage healthier behaviors. To assist member states, WHO has released a " technical manual on alcohol tax policy and administration,” following the model of existing WHO tax manuals, such as those on tobacco.

Criticism of current alcohol tax policies specifically points out that wine is exempt from consumption tax in at least 22 countries.


The World Health Organisation has alcohol in its crosshairs. One industry expert tells Felicity Carter that the wine industry needs to pay attention.

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The WHO refers to a 2017 study suggesting a global 50% increase in alcohol prices could prevent 21m deaths and generate an additional $17t in state revenue over 50 years. Lithuania is cited as an example; it raised alcohol taxes in 2017, leading to an increase of $95m in alcohol tax revenue in 2018 compared to 2016, and a reduction in alcohol-related deaths from 0.0234% of the population in 2016 to 0.0181% in 2018.

A recent scientific congress in Toledo, Spain, discussed alcohol and health. The clear message: Current science does not allow for definitive statements about moderate alcohol consumption. The "lack of scientific evidence on the effects of alcohol and cancer" was particularly criticized by oncologist Dr. Justus Affelstaedt.


Drunken rats, polyphenols and the question of safe drinking limits — Felicity Carter went to hear the science on wine and health.

Reading time: 9m



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