The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has released three new publications examining alcohol as a public health problem. One is available in Spanish only. Other new PAHO publications may be viewed online.
Alcohol and Public Health in the Americas: A Case for Action documents the toll of alcohol on public health in the Americas and argues that reducing consumption should be a top public health priority. Alcohol kills one person every two minutes in the region and contributes to more than 60 health problems, ranging from fetal alcohol syndrome to cancer, heart and liver disease, mental illness, domestic and street violence, and traffic injuries and deaths. Unsafe patterns of consumption, particularly overconsumption, are associated with the greatest harm, and underage drinking is a particular problem in the region. Surveys show that teens in the Americas drink often, and their drinking leads to traffic injuries, suicide attempts, homicide and violence, sexual assault, and risky sex. The book calls on countries to develop a comprehensive approach to alcohol based on 10 building blocks. Among the policies it cites as most effective are increased taxes on alcohol,minimum age limits for buying alcoholic beverages, lowered blood alcohol levels for driving, and restrictions on outlets and hours for alcohol sales.