WHO adopts global strategy to combat alcohol abuse

Updated: May 20, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

Geneva: Nations adopted a global strategy to
reduce alcohol abuse Thursday, breaking decades of silence on one
of the leading causes of death and facing down an industry
wary of new taxes and advertising controls in developing

In a consensus vote, the World Health Organization`s 193
member states endorsed a series of optional measures to combat
harmful drinking, from lowering blood alcohol limits for
drivers to restricting opening hours of bars and liquor

The most contentious proposals affect brewers and liquor
manufacturers, and deal with pricing and marketing.

"Alcohol is the risk factor for many other things," said
Dr Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO`s mental health and
substance abuse department.

"Usually it is not perceived as the killer, but it

The resolution isn`t a legally binding treaty, and lacks
the teeth of the organization`s 2005 landmark tobacco accord,
which requires governments who have ratified the agreement to
fight smoking.

But, while WHO guidelines often follow the richest
nations on innovation, they frequently influence governments
in emerging economies where industries such as tobacco and
alcohol want to broaden their business.

Harmful drinking is the third leading risk factor for
disability and premature death in the world, with 2.5 million
people deaths each year linked to alcohol, WHO said.