Alcohol control policies and mortality trends in Belarus
Drug and Alcohol Review (2020)
Background and Aim. Belarus is among the countries that have very high alcohol consumption levels, and that suffer from a huge burden of excessive drinking. This paper aims to explore the peculiarities of the alcohol control policies implemented in Belarus, and to link these policies to the trends in alcohol consumption and mortality.
Data and Methods.Our narrative review of alcohol policies and anti-alcohol measures is based on the laws, directives and other ofﬁcial documents
issued by Belarusian authorities since the early 1990s. The data on alcohol consumption and other relevant variables originate from ofﬁcial statistical books. Our analysis of mortality trends is based upon ofﬁcial statistical tables by causes of death.
Results. Despite the large number of government policy initiatives that authorities claimed were controlling the problem, alcohol consumption in Belarus grew rapidly up to 2010, when it reached the highest level in the world. This negative trend can be largely attributed to inconsistent alcohol control policies. In particular, the implementation of excise taxes encouraged the manufacturing of inexpensive fortiﬁed fruit wines. Additionally, measures designed to raise the price of alcohol were inadequate, resulting in strong alcoholic drinks (e.g. vodka) becoming more affordable. However, the third anti-alcohol campaign, which was launched in 2011, led to declines in both alcohol consumption and alcohol-related mortality. Conclusions. Belarus has acquired the experience and the legislative foundation needed to implement effective alcohol control polices. To further
reduce alcohol-related harm in Belarus, a steady and consistent long-term policy perspective is required.
Keywords: Belarus, adult mortality, alcoholism, mortality trends