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Calls for a new and stronger EU Alcohol Strategy

On May, 15th representatives of the European Parliament, European Commission and WHO, along with leading academics and public health organisations, renewed their support for strong measures to tackle alcohol problems in Europe and called for a new and stronger EU Alcohol Strategy.

First European Awareness Week on Alcohol-Related Harm (AWARH ‘13)- 13 to 17 May 2013

It is well documented that alcohol-related problems compromise individual and social health, and wellbeing. In 2010, the total costs in the EU of alcohol-related problems was estimated to be $€155bn[1] (1,3 of EU’s GDP).

Alcohol is third leading risk factor for disease and early deaths in Europe[2] causing some 60 diseases and disorders[3], including alcohol liver diseases, diabetes and cancer. Over 12 million people in Europe are dependent on alcohol[4].

In the light of these challenges 7 organisations came together to organise the first European Awareness Week on Alcohol-Related Harm (AWARH13) on 13 to 17 May 2013. MEP Nessa Childers (S&D, Ireland) hosted a policy event in the European Parliament entitled ‘Time for action: The need for an integrated EU alcohol strategy’ that explored how EU policies can continue to tackle alcohol-related harm in Europe.

Participants at the event called for the EU to use its competences in areas like labelling, advertising or taxation to increase efforts to reduce the burden of harmful alcohol consumption in Europe.

Alcohol is responsible for 3.5% of cancer deaths in the world. “We should be giving information to citizens that alcohol causes cancer” said Peter Anderson (Professor, Alcohol and Health, Maastricht University, The Netherlands)

“50% of citizens are using alcohol at levels that are compromising their health and don’t even know about it” said Patricia Reilly, Member of the Cabinet of the Commissioner for Research and Innovation.

“We have 88 NGOs, including over 20 European Networks and all EU Member States calling on the European Commission to renew and strengthen the EU Alcohol Strategy. It is now time for the Commission to act on those requests” said Mariann Skar, Secretary General of The European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare).

The Awareness Week on Alcohol-Related Harm (AWARH) is supported by: European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), the European Liver Patients Association (ELPA), the European Mutual-Help Network for Alcohol-related Problems (EMNA), the European Federation of Associations of Families of People with Mental Illness (EUFAMI), The European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare), Alcohol Concern and Lundbeck.

[1] Rehm, J., Shield, K., Rehm, M., Gmel, G., & Frick, U. (2012). Modelling the impact of alcohol dependence on mortality burden and the effect of available treatment interventions in the European Union. European Neuropsychopharmacology.

[2] Kohn R., Saxena, S., Levav, I., Saraceno, B. (2004) The treatment gap in mental health care. World Health Organization (WHO) Bul­letin. Available at:

[3] World Health Organization (WHO). (2012). Alcohol in the European Union: Consumption, harm and policy approaches. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe.

[4] Rehm, Op. Cit.