ANALYSIS: Does Spain have a drinking problem?

LEVELS of alcohol consumption in Spain have been decreasing progressively over the past 30 years, although they remain above the OECD average.

In the 60s, an average of 10 litres of alcohol per person each year were consumed. In the 70s and 80s this rose considerably higher and has since been steadily declining, with under 10 litres of alcohol consumed on average per person per year since 2010. 

However, although the amount of alcohol being consumed has decreased significantly since the 70s, Spain still remains above the average of OECD countries. 

Data Alcohol 2
Source: Global status report on alcohol and health, The World Health Organisation

Data published by Eurostat shows that 13% of people in Spain drink alcohol every day, which is just behind Portugal which leads with 20% of people having an alcohol drink every day. The EU average is 8.4% daily drinkers. 

However, the weekly and monthly drinking habits of Spaniards are similar to other European countries.The study also showed that Spaniards are the third least likely to binge drink, after Cypriots and Italians. 

The findings reflect the culture of drinking in Spain, where it is common for people to drink a glass of wine or beer with a meal. 

Data Alcohol
Annual alcohol concumption per capita. Source: The OECD, tackling harmful alcohol abuse report.

However, alcohol is still responsible for more than 8,000 deaths a year in Spain, ranging from cirrhosis and cancer, to pancreatitis and traffic accidents. 

The National Drug Plan says Spaniards are drinking on average nearly twice the global average which is 6.2 litres per person each year and higher than Europe’s average, which is 10.9.

The OECD says that Spain has overall a good level of policy surrounding alcohol consumption and sales, but there are opportunities for further action. These could include tackling drink driving, improving alcohol prevention and reduction activities in schools and implementing more health warnings on labels. 

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