20 deputies voted in favor of changing the regulations that control the advertising of alcohol-containing beverages in Costa Rica. Unfortunately, some health defenders from Costa Rica were absent and the vote was 20 to 19. If this bill is approved, the financing of sports by breweries and other alcoholic beverage companies would be allowed.
It is unfortunate that bill No. 21,745 seeks that the legal drug that produces the worst consequences on the health of Costa Ricans can sponsor sports. According to data from the Institute of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence – IAFA, 15% of the population has problematic consumption of alcoholic beverages, and if we place these figures between 18 and 35 years of age, the number of affected population reaches 40%.
Alcohol abuse is associated with most cases of domestic violence, mainly against women and children. Likewise, it is related to the increase in accidents and aggressive behaviors and produces innumerable diseases.
As a result of harmful drinking patterns, alcohol is currently the leading risk factor in the Americas for the overall burden of disease – including cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, liver cirrhosis, and pancreatitis – and ranks fifth among the leading causes of premature death in all age groups, according to Dr. Maristela Monteiro, senior advisor to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on the use of alcohol and psychotropic substances.
Alcohol in adolescents
Alcohol consumption is increasingly manifested at an early age in adolescents, due to the normalization within society as it is a legal drug allowed and present in most celebrations, including those related to sporting events, such as matches of international and national soccer.
There are studies carried out in the school population in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2018 (IAFA), which indicate that the average age of initiation of alcohol consumption has decreased and stands at 13 years, both in men and women. Beer being the starting drink in 37% of the young people surveyed.
The beginning of adolescence is a period to begin to experience risky situations, among which are the consumption of alcohol and the most important efforts must be made so that greater evils do not occur.
The way of consumption of the Costa Rican is characterized by the ingestion of large amounts in a short time, seeking the effect of alcohol as a drug and without association with lunch or dinner, as is customary in other latitudes. This pattern of intake leads to greater health and social damage.
The negative consequences in minors, such as emotional, cognitive and social development deserve to be prevented and addressed in a timely manner and the early consumption of alcoholic beverages deepens them, increasing the risks that we have already mentioned for adults.
Health costs would increase
Then the project N ° 21,745 that aims to increase resources in sports, increasing advertising and therefore alcohol sales in the medium term will be more expensive for health institutions, the national community and in particular for Costa Rican families.
It is clear that the initiation and deepening of consumption is multi-causal, but it is sufficiently proven that advertising is one of the main factors for the initiation of consumption in adolescents. And if your significant figures are, for example, footballers who advertise certain drinks on their jerseys, the imitation will induce problematic alcohol consumption.
Thomas Babor, professor of community medicine and public health at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, states that “controls on advertising, marketing, and availability of alcohol are among the most effective policies, and that is why they are recommended.” .
PAHO in its document SAFER (2020) establishes as an important measure: “Reduce the effects of marketing and advertising, particularly on children, adolescents and young people, as an important element to prevent and reduce the harmful consumption of alcohol. It is very difficult to target young adult consumers without exposing large numbers of adolescents who have not yet reached the minimum age for consumption to the same advertising”.
Based on the aforementioned arguments, the Costa Rica Saludable civil society organization considers that Public Health is not a gamble and that Ethics is priceless.