Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Scale of Illicit Alcohol is Higher Than Originally Estimated’

Illicit Alcohol
     The scale of illicit alcohol consumption is “much higher than previous global estimates”, with one in every two drinks coming from the black market in some countries, a new report has discovered.   Illicit alcohol is rife in poor communities around the world.  According to the Alcohol in the Shadow Economy report by the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), illicit alcohol is particularly widespread in low- and middle-income countries.  The report, which uses data from 26 countries compiled by Euromonitor, also found that the majority of alcohol consumed is illicit in five out of seven African countries.   IARD is calling on regulated producers, governments, and communities to create partnerships to tackle harmful drinking.

Alcohol from the Shadows
     “This report shows that in many developing countries, much of the alcohol consumed is illicit. This is bad for health, bad for governments and bad for business,” said Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes, who is also chair of IARD’s CEO Group.  “It is critical that governments create an environment where legal businesses can thrive and avoid punitive regulation that creates unintended consequences, including driving consumers to unregulated channels that endanger public health.”  The report highlighted recent news that almost 150 Indonesian people died from alcohol poisoning in early 2018 caused by drinking bootleg spirit containing mosquito repellent.   Across 18 countries assessed in the report, illicit alcohol represents a combined US$1.8 billion fiscal loss.  IARD CEO, said “Tackling harmful use of alcohol requires a collaborative and united response from public, private and not-for-profit sectors. But these partnerships can only thrive when there is a broad and regulated private sector able to play its role in improving health and tackling harmful drinking.”

     Alcohol in the Shadow Economy outlines several successful partnerships to combat the black market, including a code for shebeens, which are informal outlets selling alcohol, predominantly in South Africa.   The development of affordable and safe alternative beers in Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa; and a police initiative to engage with local villagers in India for the purpose of targeting racketeers.