Turning HBSC study data into action: taxing alcopops in Germany

In 2003, the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study revealed a worrying trend in Germany – young people were drinking more and more. Ten percent of 13-year-olds were drinking alcohol at least once a week, as were 40% of 15-year-old boys and 25% of 15-year-old girls. This was partly due to the widespread use of alcopops, whose sales had more than tripled in 2001 alone.

In response, the government adopted the Alcopops Tax Act, which dramatically increased their price. The resulting tax revenues were used to support alcohol prevention programmes. By 2006, the study was able to report a major decrease in alcohol use by young people. This decrease has continued.

It was the HBSC study that first identified this trend, bringing it to policy-makers’ attention early enough for them to act upon it. The study is accurate and representative, reflecting young people’s lives, health and well-being. Its ability to report on the success or failure of solutions gives it special value for those who want to protect and promote young people’s health and well-being.

More about the HBSC study

The WHO collaborative HBSC study has been a pioneering cross-national study and an invaluable resource for over 30 years, providing insights into young people’s well-being, health behaviours and social context. WHO and many others have used its findings to inform policy and practice in countries and regions across Europe, contributing to improvements in the lives of millions of young people.

The HBSC study in Germany is led by Matthias Richter from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. For more information, contact hbsc-germany@medizin.uni-halle.de.