Portuguese top tables for love of drink

By Carrie-Marie Bratley, in Food & Wine · 15-05-2014 14:46:00 · 3 Comments
Portuguese top tables for love of drink

The World Health Organisation has called on governments to do more to prevent alcohol-related deaths and diseases as it released its Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2014 earlier this week, which found alcohol consumption in Portugal is still above the European average.

While the WHO’s report may have found that the overall average of alcohol consumption per capita (aged fifteen and over) in Portugal has dropped slightly in comparison to the last period analysed (2003-2005), it is still above the European average and scored a maximum rating of five on the organisation’s ‘Year’s of Life Lost’ scale, which is based on alcohol-attributable years of life lost due to such as liver cirrhosis and road accidents.
The report established that wine is Portuguese drinkers’ beverage of choice, with 55 percent of the population surveyed tending to prefer it.
The second most widely-consumed beverage in Portugal is beer, preferred by 33 percent of drinkers, followed by spirits (33 percent) and ‘other drinks’ (3 percent).
According to the WHO its Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2014 presents “a comprehensive perspective on the global, regional and country consumption of alcohol, patterns of drinking, health consequences and policy responses in Member States.
“It represents a continuing effort by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to support Member States in collecting information in order to assist them in their efforts to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, and its health and social consequences.”
This latest report was launched earlier this week in Geneva on Monday, 12 May, during the second meeting of the global network of WHO national counterparts for the implementation of the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.
Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health said: “More needs to be done to protect populations from the negative health consequences of alcohol consumption. The report clearly shows that there is no room for complacency when it comes to reducing the harmful use of alcohol.”
The report stressed that some countries are already strengthening measures to protect people, which include increasing taxes on alcohol, limiting the availability of alcohol by raising the age limit, and regulating the marketing of alcoholic beverages.
In Portugal the national legal minimum drinking age is 16 – two years below that of the UK at 18 – and excise tax is levied on beer and spirits but not on wine.

On average, each Portuguese drinker consumes around 12.9 litres of alcohol a year, two litres more than the European average, and Portugal ranks 10th on a list of Europe’s 53 top-drinking countries.
Portuguese men were found to drink almost twice as much as women, but, more positively, binge drinking among youngsters in this country is still a way off from being as high as in other European countries such as Germany.
The report highlights that in 2012, worldwide, 3.3 million deaths were caused by harmful use of alcohol, and warns that alcohol consumption “can not only lead to dependence, but also increases people’s risk of developing more than 200 diseases including liver cirrhosis and some cancers.”
It stresses: “In addition, harmful drinking can lead to violence and injuries.”
Last summer the Foreign Office launched a campaign in which it encouraged young holidaymakers to “think before and while they drink”, to avoid the pitfalls of excessive drinking.
Expats were also asked to share the “important message” with visiting friends and family, “to help ensure they spend their time enjoying their holidays, not in hospital, jail or worse.”
The FO’s call came after new research found that peer pressure and cheap drinks are the more common causes of excessive drinking on holiday.
Recent EU stats indicate that Portugal is among the cheapest countries in Europe when it comes to alcohol and is significantly cheaper than the UK.
In popular tourist destinations such as the Algarve, in Southern Portugal, pints of beer can still be found for a euro or less.
In related news it was revealed last month that the number of fatalities on Portuguese roads fell by 7.6 percent between 2001 and 2012 but drink-driving is still a major concern, according to a report by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).
The ETSC said that despite improvements in vehicle safety, drink-driving and inappropriate speed are still contributing to many deaths on European roads.
It estimates that 5,600 deaths, half of them in cars, could be prevented annually by eliminating drink-driving and a further 1,300 could be avoided if the average speed on all roads was cut by just 1km/h.
The head of the Portuguese Society for Alcoholism also recently warned that the ongoing economic crisis is causing the number of cases of alcoholism in Portugal to rise – and indeed worsen – more specifically regarding the consumption of distilled beverages and beer.
This was corroborated by Alcoholics Anonymous Portugal; a spokesperson for the Portuguese branch – which has close to one hundred help-groups all over mainland Portugal and on its islands, including English-speaking groups for foreigners – told The Portugal News that feedback from the association’s various groups indicated that the ongoing financial woes in this country were in fact driving some to excess.
The spokesperson said: “Information passed on to us from the groups shows that many newcomers say that, due to increasing difficulties, they intensified the consumption of alcohol to the point of losing control. We also know that in the recent past we have had lots of new members.”
For more on AA Portugal, see: www.aaportugal.org.


What they should do is to leave people to decide how much they want to drink for themselves, tax hikes do nothing the UK has proved that, people just go without other stuff. A little more education on the damage it does is fine, but for heavens sake let adults make their own choices.

by Sarah from Alentejo on 19-05-2014 07:16:00

No, they should increase the tax for it. All they have to do is limited their drinks and warned other bars not to let them drinking if they go to other bars at the same hours.

by bearmon2010 from Açores on 16-05-2014 09:54:00

I lived in Portugal for 30 years and enjoyed most of my time there and loved a drink in pleasant surroundings, but I found that some portuguese find it hard to admit to liking a tipple, and in public drank water rather than have a beer in public , if you're seen with a pint then you must be an alcoholic.The worse drinker who will not admit drinking, is the one with a problem.

by troy from UK on 16-05-2014 06:53:00
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