The new initiative launched to address neglected global health crisis of alcohol harms is supported with a $15 million philanthropic award that doubles existing global funding. RESET Alcohol will work in fifteen countries primarily in Latin America, Africa, Asia.

November 1, 2022 (New York) — Alcohol consumption is a top-ten driver of death, illness and injury, with wide-ranging social and economic harms. Many of the harms related to alcohol disproportionately affect young adults, and surveys from multiple countries suggest that the Covid-19 pandemic has further increased drinking. Today, Vital Strategies announced RESET Alcohol – a groundbreaking new $15 million initiative to reduce alcohol-related harms in hard-hit countries through policy change.

Public health work on alcohol is vastly underfunded relative to the issue’s burden, and the philanthropic award that founds RESET Alcohol roughly doubles existing global funding. Over three years, the initiative will support 15 or more countries to develop policies including raising the price of alcohol via taxation, regulating availability, and restricting alcohol marketing.

“Every year, alcohol use cuts millions of lives short and causes even more widespread suffering,” said Adam Karpati, Senior Vice President, Public Health Programs at Vital Strategies. “The onus can’t be on individuals. We must reset from an environment where the alcohol industry is empowered to push alcohol into nearly every aspect of our lives, including schools, sports, and media. We need policies that protect kids, make healthy choices the easy choices, and check industry’s influence. RESET Alcohol will do just that through strong partnerships with government and civil society leaders who are committed to action.”

RESET Alcohol is a collaboration of six global organizations: Vital Strategies, which is leading the initiative; Movendi International; the University of Illinois Chicago; the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA); the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Alliance; and World Health Organization (WHO). RESET Alcohol will support countries, primarily in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, with an emphasis on high-population, high-burden countries. RESET Alcohol’s approach builds on partners’ success in similar consortia addressing tobacco and other harmful commodities, including contributing to 18.5% relative reduction in tobacco use in Bangladesh (2009-17) and 17% in India (2010-17).

Per capita alcohol consumption among drinkers has increased in nearly all regions of the world consistently since 2005. Alcohol consumption is related to more than 60 different conditions, including cancers, heart disease, liver disease, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS; injuries and trauma including suicide, homicide, assault, falls, intimate partner violence, and vehicle crashes. Alcohol consumption is also associated with adverse economic impacts, from medical care costs to lost productivity.

“Failure to act has led to millions of preventable deaths and suffering from alcohol,” said Jacqui Drope, Director, RESET Alcohol. “It’s time governments treat it like the public health crisis that it is. When governments take up policies proven to reduce alcohol-related harms, population health and economies will benefit.”

RESET Alcohol’s objective is to advance policies as recommended by the World Health Organization’s Global Alcohol Action Plan and the SAFER technical package, especially taxes on alcohol and regulations on marketing and availability. RESET Alcohol will provide technical support to governments, improve national research and data collection, resource advocacy for policy change, and mount communications campaigns.

“For governments, tax increases on alcohol are a win-win, especially given the sluggish global economy,” said Jeffrey Drope, Research Professor at UIC. “Effective alcohol taxation reduces affordability, consumption and alcohol related disease and premature death. This means lower health care costs and increased productivity from a healthier population. Taxes also create revenue for governments to fund health programs or other social priorities.”

Funding for RESET Alcohol was awarded via a grant directed to Vital Strategies from GiveWell, a nonprofit dedicated to finding outstanding giving opportunities and publishing the full details of its analysis to help donors decide where to give. GiveWell recommends high-impact, cost-effective charities backed by evidence and rigorous analysis.

“Alcohol is a major obstacle to development,” said Kristína Šperková, President, Movendi International. “It’s not only an obvious health crisis but also a major social justice issue. RESET Alcohol can support governments in advancing proven alcohol policy solutions, which will protect millions of people from harm caused by alcohol companies and promote the health of the most neglected and marginalized people and communities.”

“Science-based policies independent of commercial interests are key to reduce harm from alcohol worldwide,” said Sally Casswell, Chairperson at Global Alcohol Policy Alliance. “We look forward to supporting the adaptation of best practice policies to new countries around the world and learning about local innovations. We are honored to be a part of RESET Alcohol and its promising mission to see millions of fewer deaths and injury from alcohol.”

“We urgently need a public health reset with smart policies to get death and disease caused by alcohol under control”, said Katie Dain, CEO of the NCD Alliance. “We are proud to be part of RESET Alcohol, working to bring communities, national governments, and research partners together to drive change through alcohol policies that count”.

About RESET Alcohol

RESET Alcohol brings together national governments, civil society, and global leaders to advance policies from the World Health Organization’s SAFER package for reducing the health, social and economic harms of alcohol. RESET Alcohol activities include financial and technical support to governments, civil society organizations, and technical policy institutions. The initiative is led by Vital Strategies in collaboration with Movendi International; The Tobacconomics Team, based at the University of Illinois Chicago; Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA); The NCD Alliance; and World Health Organization (WHO).

To learn more visit: https://www.vitalstrategies.org/programs/alcohol-policy/

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies believes every person should be protected by an equitable and effective public health system. We partner with governments, communities and organizations around the world to reimagine public health so that health is supported in all the places we live, work and play. The result is millions of people living longer, healthier lives. To learn more visit www.vitalstrategies.org or follow us @VitalStrat.

About Movendi International

Movendi International is a global social movement working for development through alcohol policy. We unite, strengthen and empower civil society to address alcohol as a serious obstacle to development on personal, community, societal and global levels. We facilitate multi-sectoral partnerships with governments, civil society, academia, and the UN system to help advance high-impact alcohol policy solutions. Our goal is to accelerate evidence-based action to protect more people from alcohol harm and, in this way, promote health and development for all. To learn more, visit www.movendi.ngo and follow us @Movendi_Int.

About University of Illinois Chicago

The University of Illinois Chicago (USA) Institute for Health Research and Policy (Tobacconomics team) conducts economic research to inform and shape fiscal policies for health and supports country-based researchers to develop the local evidence to inform government tax policymaking. To learn more visit https://tobacconomics.org

About Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA)

The Global Alcohol Policy Alliance is a network of non-governmental organisations and people advocating for effective alcohol policies. Our goal is to reduce alcohol-related harm worldwide by promoting science-based policies independent of commercial interests. Since 2000 GAPA has been an active advocate in global health and has a global reach with regional alliances in Asia/Pacific; Africa; Europe; Caribbean; Latin America and the United States. GAPA hosts the biennial Global Alcohol Policy Conference which is the leading forum for the world’s alcohol policy makers, advocates, researchers, civil society activists and practitioners. More about GAPA at www.globalgapa.org and follow us @globalgapa

About The NCD Alliance

The NCD Alliance (NCDA) is a registered non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Geneva, Switzerland, dedicated to supporting a world free from preventable suffering, disability and death caused by noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Founded in 2009, NCDA brings together a unique network of over 300 members in more than 80 countries into a respected, united and credible global civil society movement. The movement is unified by the cross-cutting nature of common risk factors including unhealthy diets, harmful use of alcohol, tobacco smoking, air pollution and physical inactivity, and the system solutions for chronic NCDs such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, mental health and neurological disorders. To learn more visit https://ncdalliance.org

About the World Health Organization led Global SAFER initiative WHO, in collaboration with international partners, launched the SAFER initiative in 2018. SAFER is an acronym for the five most cost-effective interventions to reduce alcohol related harms;

Strengthen restrictions on alcohol availability;

Advance and enforce drink-driving countermeasures; 

Facilitate access to screening, brief interventions and treatment; 

Enforce bans or comprehensive restrictions on advertising, sponsorship and promotion; and

Raise prices on alcohol through excise taxes and pricing policies.

The objective of the Global SAFER initiative is to provide support for countries in reducing the harmful use of alcohol by strengthening the implementation of the five SAFER interventions by using a set of proven technique, tools and resources and adapt them to the specific country context. RESET Alcohol aligns itself with the SAFER initiative, in which the organizations of RESET Alcohol also are partners. More about SAFER: https://www.who.int/initiatives/SAFER