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Abstract

Alcohol is the sole major psychoactive substance with a huge negative public health and social impact without some form of international control grounded in a binding treaty. While existing rules of international law, in particular in the economic field, favour liberalisation and may hinder strong national alcohol control measures, we may be witnessing a turning of the tide due to the growing mobilisation against non-communicable diseases. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has been a ground-breaking development in this sense, and has led policymakers and advocates in a number of countries to raise the possibility of a similar convention on alcohol control. The present contribution compares tobacco and alcohol from this perspective and considers the feasibility of a dedicated international convention. It concludes that the political prospects of a movement in this direction are very dim at the present time; however, policy developments on other health problems and theoretical models emerging from constructivist international relations scholarship may open up promising perspectives for considering normative and institutional approaches that could strengthen the existing legal framework and facilitate political processes towards stronger forms of legalisation of global alcohol control.

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