Romania looks at tackling heavy drinking

Romania looks at tackling heavy drinking

Bucharest, December 30, 2014/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Daniel Stroe

The Romanian Government eyes founding a national council tasked with issuing policies designed to cut alcohol consumption which places Romania on a fifth position in the rankings done by the World Health Organization.

The council, which will have no juridical weight, will function under the coordination of the Health Ministry. It will be entrusted with drafting policies and deploying actions meant to reduce harming alcohol consumption. More precisely, the council will draw up a mid and long term action plan which will be implemented by competent authorities.

It will be led by a secretary of state ranked official appointed by the Health minister and will have an inter-ministerial and a consultative committee in its structure. The Romanian media have revealed that among the measures the council could take is an annual increase of the alcohol excise duties which is endorsed by the Health Ministry.

An internal memo leaked in the Romanian media shows the ministry wants an annual increase of alcohol and tobacco excise duties, arguing that, in case of cigarettes, consumption has decreased, but state expenses in treating smokers continue to grow. Another measure could be a ban on displaying alcohol bottles, especially spirits, in shops.

A report of the World Health Organization issued this year shows Romania on the 5th position in terms of pure alcohol consumption per capita, following Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania and Russia. Thus, a Romanian drinks 14.4 liter per year, which is 132 % above the world average consumption, while the consumption comes to 17.5 liters in Belarus. Romania is closely followed by Ukraine, Andorra, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia and Portugal.

Statistics show that about 70,000 Romanians are yearly treated in hospital due to heavy alcohol consumption which costs the state about 25 million Euros. In a different figure, alcohol addicted people need 570,000 days of hospitalization every year. Due to that, the death rate at people with ages 20 to 60 is three times higher than the average registered in the EU, caused by cirrhosis and heart conditions. Basically, a Romanian consumes a bottle of wine every two days, but consumption of beer and spirits has been increasing over the past years, people in the industry revealed.