Erste Asset Management

“Less is better” vs. “Drink responsibly”

“Less is better” vs. “Drink responsibly”
“Less is better” vs. “Drink responsibly”
© iStock
Share post:

Interview with Dr. Alfred Uhl, “Competence Centre Addiction“ of Gesundheit Österreich and Sigmund Freud University

What sort of responsibility do alcohol producers hold?

The UN General Assembly has deemed the economy crucially important in the fight against noncommunicable diseases such as addiction. This requires a situation where one does not categorically reject financial support from the industry aimed at curtailing the problem through research, preventive measures, and the treatment of people suffering from alcoholism; that being said, one has to make sure that this is not done in a way that contradicts the intention of reducing the problem.

There are two political camps in society with regard to alcohol: one thinks that it is generally a questionable product, while the other one regards the moderate consumption of alcohol as stimulant as positive and sees only excessive consumption as serious issue. The industry finds itself between a rock and a hard place, trying to cater to the interest of several parties. As in other areas, some players are very keen on a good reputation and responsible business practices, whereas others only look at the bottom line.

What’s your take on the status quo?

Tensions come up wherever the fight is about basic definitions and attitudes. In Northern Europe, the popular slogan is “less is better”, while in the South “drink responsibly” is the common ground. In the South, the consensus is that moderate consumption is no problem, whereas in the North the attitude is slightly more alcohol-adverse.

The two political and societal tendencies represent one underlying stance. Basically, demands are for the industry to promote prevention, therapy, and independent research. At the same time, the funding by the alcoholic beverage sector is seen critically. Demanding activities to reduce the problem on the one hand while rejecting them categorically on the other hand does not really make sense.

To what extent should the state intervene (laws, information campaign, taxation)?

The prevention and curtailment of problems associated with alcohol is of course an important task of the state. In this context, we have seen numerous public actions financed and legal amendments passed in recent years – both aimed at cutting problems resulting from alcohol abuse. For example, traffic campaigns have been funded and the DUI laws have been gradually expanded (intoxication thresholds, police checks without suspicion etc.). Addiction prevention and therapy are funded publicly, with excessive alcohol consumption consistently expounded.

In the past we have often seen changes towards reducing the problem such as by way of trade regulations, where the explicit authorisation of selling alcohol to children if they claim they are buying it for their parents was scratched. It is nowadays impossible to imagine children legally buying alcohol for their parents. This is definitely an achievement by politics.

The awareness that excessive alcohol consumption may be a health scare and that it also causes a number of other problems has increased. However, fundamental changes such as a healthier way of handling alcohol do not happen overnight. Basic attitudes and cultural imprints shift only gradually. For example, alcohol consumption has decreased by about a fifth since 1971. At the same time, one has to admit that excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol dependence remain a big problem in Austria.

How does Austria fare in comparison with other EU countries?

There are different ways to approach the problem politically. North European and English-speaking countries are generally in favour of a strict alcohol policy, pursue a premium-price strategy, and try to curb the availability of alcohol altogether. This approach is somewhat alien to many countries, among them Austria.

While high prices and strongly limited opening hours can reduce average consumption, they also abet excessive behavioural patterns, as a comparison of Northern Europe and the catholic South illustrates. In Northern Europe, more people do not drink alcohol at all, and those who do drink, do so less frequently. But when they do, they mean business. This leads to excessive levels of intoxication despite the fact that average consumption is lower than in the Southern parts of Europe.


Read more articles from this issue of our ESG letter here.

*ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance“ – These are the three broad categories according to which companies are examined in sustainable investment.


Legal note:
Prognoses are no reliable indicator for future performance.



Legal disclaimer

This document is an advertisement. Unless indicated otherwise, source: Erste Asset Management GmbH. The language of communication of the sales offices is German and the languages of communication of the Management Company also include English.

The prospectus for UCITS funds (including any amendments) is prepared and published in accordance with the provisions of the InvFG 2011 as amended. Information for Investors pursuant to § 21 AIFMG is prepared for the alternative investment funds (AIF) administered by Erste Asset Management GmbH pursuant to the provisions of the AIFMG in conjunction with the InvFG 2011.

The currently valid versions of the prospectus, the Information for Investors pursuant to § 21 AIFMG, and the key information document can be found on the website under “Mandatory publications” and can be obtained free of charge by interested investors at the offices of the Management Company and at the offices of the depositary bank. The exact date of the most recent publication of the prospectus, the languages in which the key information document is available, and any other locations where the documents can be obtained are indicated on the website A summary of the investor rights is available in German and English on the website and can also be obtained from the Management Company.

The Management Company can decide to suspend the provisions it has taken for the sale of unit certificates in other countries in accordance with the regulatory requirements.

Note: You are about to purchase a product that may be difficult to understand. We recommend that you read the indicated fund documents before making an investment decision. In addition to the locations listed above, you can obtain these documents free of charge at the offices of the referring Sparkassen bank and the offices of Erste Bank der oesterreichischen Sparkassen AG. You can also access these documents electronically at

N.B.: The performance scenarios listed in the key information document are based on a calculation method that is specified in an EU regulation. The future market development cannot be accurately predicted. The depicted performance scenarios merely present potential earnings, but are based on the earnings in the recent past. The actual earnings may be lower than indicated. Our analyses and conclusions are general in nature and do not take into account the individual characteristics of our investors in terms of earnings, taxation, experience and knowledge, investment objective, financial position, capacity for loss, and risk tolerance.

Please note: Past performance is not a reliable indicator of the future performance of a fund. Investments in securities entail risks in addition to the opportunities presented here. The value of units and their earnings can rise and fall. Changes in exchange rates can also have a positive or negative effect on the value of an investment. For this reason, you may receive less than your originally invested amount when you redeem your units. Persons who are interested in purchasing units in investment funds are advised to read the current fund prospectus(es) and the Information for Investors pursuant to § 21 AIFMG, especially the risk notices they contain, before making an investment decision. If the fund currency is different than the investor’s home currency, changes in the relevant exchange rate can positively or negatively influence the value of the investment and the amount of the costs associated with the fund in the home currency.

We are not permitted to directly or indirectly offer, sell, transfer, or deliver this financial product to natural or legal persons whose place of residence or domicile is located in a country where this is legally prohibited. In this case, we may not provide any product information, either.

Please consult the corresponding information in the fund prospectus and the Information for Investors pursuant to § 21 AIFMG for restrictions on the sale of the fund to American or Russian citizens.

It is expressly noted that this communication does not provide any investment recommendations, but only expresses our current market assessment. Thus, this communication is not a substitute for investment advice, does not take into account the legal regulations aimed at promoting the independence of financial analyses, and is not subject to a prohibition on trading following the distribution of financial analyses.

This document does not represent a sales activity of the Management Company and therefore may not be construed as an offer for the purchase or sale of financial or investment instruments.

Erste Asset Management GmbH is affiliated with the referring Sparkassen banks and Erste Bank.

Please also read the “Information about us and our securities services” published by your bank.

Subject to misprints and errors.