Illicit alcohol is widespread in many countries, particularly in low- and lower middle-income countries, according to data compiled by Euromonitor for the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD).
“Alcohol in the Shadow Economy” explores the cost to people, societies, and economies of this largescale and illegal activity and highlights the importance of creating partnerships between regulated producers, governments, and communities in tackling harmful drinking.
Nearly 150 Indonesian people died from alcohol poisoning in early 2018 as a result of drinking bootleg alcohol containing mosquito repellent; this serves as a tragic and timely reminder that illicit alcohol can cost lives.
Unregulated and illicit alcohol has the greatest impact on the poorest and most vulnerable, and, because it lacks quality and production standards, can contribute to the vicious circle of ill health and widening health inequalities.
Illicit alcohol represents a combined USD $1.8 billion fiscal loss across just 18 countries*. The loss to Colombia alone in 2015 was USD $406million; in Mozambique, the loss in 2014 was USD $285 million
Commenting on the report, Ivan Menezes, Chair of IARD’s CEO Group, said: “This important report shows that in many developing countries, much of the alcohol consumed is illicit. This is bad for health, bad for governments and bad for business.
“It is critical that governments create an environment where legal businesses can thrive and avoid punitive regulation that creates unintended consequences, including driving consumers to unregulated channels that endanger public health.
“IARD members, the leading beer, wine and spirits producers, are determined to play our part in cracking down on illegal alcohol production. But we will only win this fight in partnership with government, international bodies like the WHO and civil society organisations. Success will deliver a thriving legal market, creating economic and societal value and, critically, better health outcomes.
IARD’s CEO and President Henry Ashworth added: “Tackling harmful use of alcohol requires a collaborative and united response from public, private and not-for-profit sectors. But these partnerships can only thrive when there is a broad and regulated private sector able to play its role in improving health and tackling harmful drinking.”
The report details the significant social and health impacts of illicit alcohol at local, national, and global levels, and offers steps that governments, communities, and legal producers can take to combat illicit production and consumption.
Examples of effective intersectoral partnerships detailed in the report include:
The report was compiled by IARD from data from 26 countries, provided by the global market research firm Euromonitor, notably in Africa and Latin America. Illicit alcohol is also widespread across Asia and parts of Europe, but comparable data was not available.