Year of Publication: 2009
Subject: Unrecorded Alcohol and its harmful impacts
Summary: Illicit alcohol is a large and particularly damaging component of unrecorded alcohol consumption. Unrecorded alcohol use constitutes in many poorer countries a large, and in some instances the largest, share of all alcohol consumption. The well-recognized harm from illicit alcohol use is readily and widely attributed to toxic constituents and impurities but not to that resulting from its contribution to total alcohol consumption of the population. This tendency prevails even in settings where unrecorded consumption exceeds that of legal brews. Policies effective in wealthier countries are often less so in poorer countries with large proportions of alcohol consumed being of the ‘unrecorded’ category. Some measures may even have untoward consequences. Interested parties can also use the presence of a sizable market in unrecorded alcohol as an argument to block the adoption of effective policies – by highlighting or exaggerating possible increases in illicit alcohol use that can result from the adoption of such policies. Enhanced criminality, corruption and other negative social consequences that result from large-scale illicit markets are ignored in national and international forums. So also is the possible collusion of the legal alcohol trade in the illicit business.