The number of Czech people using alcohol on a regular basis is alarmingly high, according to a Czech government report on drug use. Government officials are looking at ways to lower the level of use, including increased taxes on alcohol and limiting where alcohol is sold.
Some 1.6 million Czechs, out of a population of 10.6 million, are in danger of falling permanently into addiction.
Every day, some 600,000 people consume alcohol, of which is disproportionately high.
This situation has a negative impact on the health of the entire population. It contributes to higher mortality rates in connection with the development of cancer, and also contributes to mental illness, according to the Czech Ministry of Health.
The problem does not only affect adults. Czech children are among the top drinkers in Europe. And the number of women getting treated in hospitals and clinics for alcohol abuse is catching up with the number of men.
According to experts, alcohol is seen as a typical part of Czech culture, and this makes it difficult to convince people that there is a problem.
The Anti-Drug Department of the Government Office and at the Ministry of Health both want to make it more difficult for people to access alcohol. They would like to see limits on advertising, and also efforts to make it less accessible by limiting locations where it is sold and by raising taxes.
National Anti-Drug Coordinator Jarmila Vedralová has already prepared a proposal to make alcohol more expensive, according to media reports.
Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (ANO) also wants to see higher taxes on alcohol. In addition, he would like to see it no longer being sold at gas stations, to discourage drinking and driving.
The Czech Republic has led the world in beer consumption for almost a quarter century, with 143.3 liters per person, though this is a bit inflated by tourism. The beer ranking is published annually by Japanese brewer Kirin, and the most recent one was based on 2016 figures.
More recent figures from Czech tax offices show the amount of beer consumed is slowly starting to decline, but experts say this is because the younger generation is switching to other beverages including mixed drinks.
In total alcohol consumption, counting beer, wine and spirits, the Czech Republic is in ninth place at 13 liters of pure alcohol per capita per year. Belarus is in the first place, according to the World Health Organization.