Alcohol on EU agenda in Stockholm
Swedish minister Maria Larsson opened the Conference
STOCKHOLM An Expert Conference on Alcohol and Health was held in Stockholm in late September. The aim was to raise the alcohol issue in European Union and to intensify the long-term work with the now three years old alcohol strategy in the union.
Organized by the Swedish Presidency of the EU; researchers, policymakers, the alcohol industry and NGOs met in Stockholm, during two days. At seminars research was presented, the role of advertising valuated and the current alcohol strategy, to reduce the harm of alcohol in the Union, was evaluated. Also the problems of cross-border trade was raised.
A memorandum of the conference was to hold the now three years old strategy alive. Alcohol issue has been raised in the EU, all members have established an alcohol policy, and half of the countries have introduced age limits. But much remains to do. Europe has the highest consumption of alcohol in the world and the damage is extensive. Some 195 000 Europeans die each year in alcohol related illnesses and accidents.
- I am very pleased with the high level of exchange of knowledge this conference enabled. Many of us have now mush more knowledge, then before, to take home. But the “steam” must be kept up, much more work remains to do and alcohol must be put high on the agenda of the EU, the Swedish minister for Elderly care and Public health, Maria Larsson, told Drugnews.
In a closing speech, she told about the four priorities in the field of alcohol the Swedish Presidency, will put on top of the agenda in the ministerial meeting in December:
• Children and young people affected by alcohol need much more attention. Between five and nine million children are growing up in abusing families within EU. The support for those must be better.
• More elder people, particularly women, have increased their alcohol consumption. Related illnesses and deaths are more common. This problem needs more attention in Europe. The elderly and the health care must be informed about the risks of alcohol.
• The price on alcohol has a significant impact on how much people drink. In most of the countries in EU alcohol has become cheaper.
• Advertising of alcohol; the industry's so-called self-regulation is not convincing, the question is whether more stringent advertising regulations are needed to protect young people in particular.
- I have invited the private sector because we need to cooperate. But it remains to see how serious they are in their dialogue, said mrs Maria Larsson.
The alcohol industry was active at the expert conference. It claimed that it’s opinion wasn’t enabled to be heard enough. For instance they were critical the meeting focused on damage, but not the positive sides about alcohol.
The temperance movement, IOGT International, on the other hand, proposed with some experts that alcohol advertising should be totally banned in the EU, such as the marketing of tobacco are now.
Publicerad: 2009-10-09 13:57