There should be alcohol control policies like the tobacco control policies

Dear Editor,

There is intense advocacy against the consumption of tobacco. This World No Tobacco Day, the theme was ‘Tobacco – a threat to development’. The advocacy has included the protection of the environment as the World Health Organisation also realised a report about the negative environmental impact caused by tobacco farming. Some countries had funded farmers to change their crops from tobacco to other crops.

With this kind of intense activity, it would be easy to assume that tobacco is more dangerous than alcohol. The politics and economics of public health are interesting in Guyana though. According to the World Health Organisation ( abuse/facts/global_burden/en/ ), tobacco is the largest disease burden in Europe and South-East Asia, while alcohol poses the largest burden in Africa, the Americas, and Western Pacific. Many citizens in Guyana and elsewhere would know that alcohol has caused havoc in Guyana, as tobacco and other drugs have done.

In Guyana then, there is a need then for a World No Alcohol day, with themes like ‘Alcohol: a threat to Guyana’s development’. The legislation on tobacco control should be copied so that  alcohol consumption should be banned from the same places where tobacco smoking is forbidden.  Guyana’s Tobacco Control Bill, proposes to ban advertising and sponsorship. The alcohol industry in Guyana aggressively promotes their product which causes the highest disease burden through sports and other entertainment. Cricket Australia is reportedly now considering banning alcohol sponsorship from cricket.

The Tobacco Control Bill is part of Guyana’s responsibilities under the World Health Organisation Framework on Tobacco Control.

Even though alcohol causes more problems than tobacco in Guyana and the Americas, there is no World Health Organisation Convention on Alcohol Control. Advocates have appealed to the WHO to develop alcohol control policies like the tobacco control policies. It seems the alcohol industry and its supporters are more powerful than the tobacco industry.

Will Guyana have to wait on the World Health Organisation before it admits it has a problem with alcohol consumption and do something about it?

Yours faithfully,

Vidyaratha Kissoon


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