28 January 2020
Health experts advise people to drink one or two cans of beer at most a day. Photo: Bloomberg
Health experts advise people to drink one or two cans of beer at most a day. Photo: Bloomberg

Time to swallow tougher action on harmful drinking, WHO says

Drinking may make some the life of the party but excessive intake also caused 3.3 million deaths worldwide in 2012, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The global health body is urging governments around the world to do more to protect the public from the dangers of alcohol, saying in a May 12 report that it can trigger more than 200 diseases and lead to violence and injuries.

While many countries have taken a tougher line on drinking, including increasing alcohol taxes and raising the legal drinking age, Hong Kong has headed in the opposite direction, abolishing import duties for wine and beer in 2008.

In Hong Kong, about 10.2 percent people aged over 15 in Hong Kong are drinkers, according to a 2010 government report.

“More needs to be done to protect populations from the negative health consequences of alcohol consumption,” Oleg Chestnov, WHO assistant director general for noncommunicable diseases and mental health, said in the report. “The report clearly shows that there is no room for complacency when it comes to reducing the harmful use of alcohol.”

Ming Pao Daily cited Castle Peak Hospital psychiatric specialist Tung Chi-kwong as saying that the public health sector has suggested that the government tax lower-alcohol beverages and ban minors from buying alcohol, but the authorities are more concerned about stopping smoking.

Tung said people should drink at most one to two cans of beer or glasses of wine per day, and also avoid drinking on an empty stomach.

The Department of Health launched an action plan in 2011 to reduce alcohol-related harm. The plan was designed to better monitor harm caused by drinking and raise public awareness of those dangers, Ming Pao said.

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