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Alcohol Policy

Alcohol use contributes to millions of deaths each year, results in violence, burdens health systems, and costs billions.

Why It Matters

  • 10% of deaths among people 15-49 are alcohol related
  • 10 seconds is how often someone dies from alcohol-related harms.

Alcohol contributes to millions of deaths each year. Often the underlying connection of alcohol consumption with these deaths—from liver disease, heart disease, cancer, violence, vehicle crashes, falls, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other conditions—is overlooked. In addition to these health harms, alcohol has negative social and economic effects on individuals, families and communities. Since 2005, per capita consumption of alcohol has risen worldwide, promoted by an industry that glamorizes alcohol and creates positive norms among youth around its consumption.


1. RESET Alcohol

What is RESET?

RESET Alcohol is an initiative that brings together national governments, civil society, research organizations, and global leaders in public health and alcohol policy to develop and implement evidence-based alcohol policies from the World Health Organization’s SAFER technical package. RESET’s primary policy focus is increasing alcohol taxation and other pricing policies, which are among the most effective interventions for reducing consumption. In addition, governments are encouraged to complement their alcohol tax increases by addressing alcohol marketing and availability.

Who is involved?

Funded by Open Philanthropy, RESET is a consortium led by Vital Strategies, with Movendi International, Johns Hopkins University (Tobacconomics team), Global Alcohol Policy Alliance, NCD Alliance, and World Health Organization.

What will it do?

RESET Alcohol will provide financial support to governments, civil society and research groups to build and strengthen staffing capacity, communication, stakeholder engagement, policy-relevant research, data systems and advocacy campaigns to implement and strengthen alcohol policy. Leveraging experience and expertise from across the consortium, the initiative will provide peer mentoring in areas such as policy and regulation development, taxation research, strategic communication and advocacy, and alcohol data and monitoring systems.

Where will RESET work?

Over the next three years, this global initiative will provide national governments and civil society partners in up to 10 countries with technical and financial assistance toward their alcohol policy goals. Working primarily in Latin America, Africa and Asia—concentrating on high-population, high-burden countries—RESET Alcohol will build on the success of similar consortia that address the harmful influence of tobacco and have contributed to significant reductions in smoking.

Smart policies can reset the environment and reduce the health and social burden of alcohol.

“We need policies that protect kids, make healthy choices the easy choices and check industry’s influence. RESET Alcohol will do just that through strong partnerships with government and civil society leaders who are committed to action.”

– Adam Karpati, Senior Vice President, Public Health Programs at Vital Strategies


Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions, including noncommunicable diseases such as liver disease, heart disease and some cancers. Vital Strategies worked with the World Health Organization on a small team that developed the SAFER initiative, launched in 2018. This guidance for alcohol policy includes a technical package that outlines five high-impact strategies that governments can adopt to reduce alcohol harms and related health, social and economic consequences.

  • Strengthen restrictions on alcohol availability
  • Advance and enforce drink driving counter measures
  • Facilitate access to screening, brief interventions and treatment
  • Enforce bans or comprehensive restrictions on alcohol advertising, sponsorship, and promotion
  • Raise prices on alcohol through excise taxes and pricing policies

Read more about SAFER

3. Publications

Trouble Brewing:
Vital Strategies partnered with three other major global health organizations to release “Trouble Brewing,” which lays out the burden of the alcohol-related harms, identifies the most important interventions governments can take to prevent death and injury, and exposes the insidious influence the industry has on alcohol policy.

The Sobering Truth: Incentivizing Alcohol Death and Disability
In “The Sobering Truth,” Vital Strategies uncovers the billions of dollars given to the alcohol industry through tax breaks, marketing subsidies and other incentives, even though their products cause premature death and illness and trigger crime, domestic violence and road injuries.

Fool Me Twice
With this report, Vital Strategies shows how the same unacceptable practices that made the tobacco industry a global pariah are used by the food and alcohol industries. “Fool Me Twice” urges governments to adopt lifesaving policies to curtail the influence of these harmful industries and keep them away from the policy table.

Vital Talks: Heineken in Africa
Dutch journalist and author Olivier van Beemen, who wrote “Heineken in Africa,” discusses the health and social impact of alcohol industry marketing practices around the world with public health academics. The panel is part of the VitalTalks speaker series.