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Measures To Address Harmful Alcohol Consumption In Czech Republic Are Under Preparation

A series of measures to reduce alcohol consumption in the Czech Republic will be proposed in early autumn, Czech National Anti-Drug Coordinator Jindrich Voboril said yesterday, including restrictions on advertising, adjustments to sales and prices as well as strengthening prevention and professional services 

The measures are being prepared by a team of experts, politicians and ministerial representatives, he told journalists at a conference on alcohol and violence against children.

Voboril said it was unclear whether the law could be passed in parliament before the next general election, scheduled for autumn 2025.

According to the 2023 annual report on addictions, one in eight adults in the Czech Republic drinks too much alcohol at least once a week.

Risky or harmful drinking is typical of up to 1.3 million people over 15 years in the country. The Czech Republic is among the countries with the highest alcohol consumption, with an average of 10 litres of alcohol per capita in 2022. Up to 7,000 deaths, or 6%, are alcohol related.

Voboril said the damage caused by alcohol drinking is about CZK 60 billion a year.

The package of measures should include a proposal to limit the availability of alcohol. For example, it could only be sold in certain outlets or at certain times. Advertising should be restricted and could only be broadcast after 10pm. Labels could in future include a warning about associated harms. Excise duty and price could also be adjusted. Government coalition party leaders will also discuss a possible increase in money for prevention and support services, Voboril said.

In its programme statement, the government says that the regulation of addictive substances will be proportionate to their level of harm. Last year, it approved the plan against addiction, which already includes a number of measures, as well as deadlines for their implementation. Voboril said the plans are difficult to enforce due to a lack of funding and political will to change the law. The coalition has been debating a consumption tax on non-sparkling wine for some time, but the Christian Democrats have rejected it.

ODS MP Renata Zajickova said the possible restriction of the availability of alcohol in the Czech Republic is an “explosive topic”, and it is not realistic to adopt a major legislative change during this election period. “It will be rather partial changes. Let’s be realistic. What is not prepared in an advanced form has no hope,” Zajickova said. She said it was a great success that the debate on drinking alcohol and its harms has now been opened.

Pirate MP Klara Kocmanova said the discussion is at the beginning and will continue. Both Kocmanova and Zajickova noted that Czech society has a welcoming attitude towards drinking. “We want to protect minors from HHC and kratom, but we can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that alcohol is responsible for most intoxication,” Kocmanova said.

Participants in the conference on alcohol and violence against children, held yesterday in Prague, agreed on measures to limit accessibility, increase penalties for violations, limit advertising, and introduce services for families.

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