China has overtaken Britain, Australia, Germany and America in alcohol consumption, drinking an average of three standard alcoholic drinks per day.
According to the South China Morning Post, there has been a rapid increase in alcohol consumption from 2.5 litres per capita to 6.7 in 2010 in mainland China. This has caused a dramatic rise in alcohol-related social and health problems such as violence, mental disorders and cancers.
Reports suggest that the rise in alcohol consumption could be due to falling taxes on spirits. In 2006 taxes on spirits were lowered to only 20 percent, which contributed to a sharp rise in consumption.
Drinking alcohol is seen as a vital part of Chinese culture, as well as a symbol of celebration, happiness and joy at festivals and events. Even some job advertisements have suggested “good drinking capacity” as a requirement, because drinking with clients is seen as important for career advancement and executing good deals.
According to the WHO report, there is a huge disparity in alcohol consumption between men and women. Statistics show that 9.3 percent of men had an alcohol use disorder compared with only 0.2 percent of women.
Similarly, amongst mainland men, alcohol use has contributed to more than 310,000 deaths and 13.8 million disability-adjusted life-years according to the Lancet’s Global Burden of Disease study.
Researchers have suggested possible solutions to combat rising alcohol consumption, including the re-establishment of a government monopoly of alcohol and stricter regulation of licensing systems.
Let’s hope the government can do something about this issue or future ‘spirits’ might not be so high in China.
By Freya Twigden