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14/03/2007

European Commission releases Eurobarometer Special Report on attitudes towards alcohol

The European Commission released last 14 March a Eurobarometer Special Report analysing EU's citizens alcohol drinking habits and their attitudes towards measures taken to combat the harm done by alcohol.

The report shows that a remarkably high percentage of EU citizens (75%) has drunk alcoholic beverages during the past 12 months, of which a large majority (87%) have done so within the past 30 days; these findings show that the number of people only drinking on special occasions, such as New Year's Eve, is in fact quite low.

Results also suggest a slight increase in alcohol consumption across the Union, by 6%, with respondents claiming that they had drunk alcoholic beverages during the past 30 days, increasing from 61% in 2003 to 67% in 2006.

The survey also shows that, although most EU citizens usually drink 1 to 2 drinks on any one occasion, it is unfortunately the youngest respondents who seemed to be more inclined to drink 3 to 4 drinks or more on any given drinking occasion.

In socio-demographic terms, it is again the youngest respondents along with students, who appear to be the most susceptible to price fluctuations, with nearly half of them claiming that they would buy less alcoholic beverages if the price would increased considerably.

Eurocare welcomes the Report on attitudes towards alcohol and hopes the survey will be repeated at regular intervals in order to, amongst other things, measure the success of the EU Alcohol Strategy in reducing the harm done by alcohol in Europe.

The low awareness among EU citizens of the permitted blood alcohol levels or the trend among the youngest respondents to drink 3- 4 drinks or more on any given drinking occasion, show that the EU has still a long way to go in this field.

Andrew McNeil, Honorary Secretary of Eurocare, the European Alcohol Policy Alliance, welcomed the findings in the report and said that “although the results of the survey show that there is still much work that needs to be done, there is also a considerable public support for tackling drink driving and underage drinking, which bodes well for the Commission Strategy”.

Around three quarters of EU citizens would agree with putting warnings on the containers of alcoholic beverages, introducing lower blood alcohol level for young drivers or banning alcohol advertising which targets young people. Banning the sale and serving of alcohol to people under the age of 18 was regarded as an important measure by 87% of the Europeans surveyed.

The special Eurobarometer on Alcohol is available at:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/health/ph_publication/eurobarometers_en.htm

European Commission press release: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/322&format=HTM