EESC warns of the consequences of alcohol abuse
6 October 2009. As requested by the Swedish Presidency, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has presented its views on alcohol-related harm in European society. The EESC calls for stricter controls on alcohol marketing and pricing policies in order to reduce problems associated with alcohol consumption.
At its plenary session of 30 September 2009, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted the opinion on how to make the EU strategy on alcohol-related harm sustainable, long-term and multisectoral. The Opinion by rapporteur Ms Jillian van Turnhout (Chief Executive of the Children's Rights Alliance) by 128 votes in favour, 5 against and 4 abstentions.
The EESC's opinion supports the implementation of an EU horizontal strategy in order to fight against the health-related, social and economic consequences of alcohol abuse and to promote responsible alcohol consumption.
The EESC highlights that, in the EU, excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for approximately 195 000 deaths a year due to accidents, liver diseases, cancers and so forth. “Harmful alcohol use is the third biggest cause of early death and illness in the EU", stressed Ms van Turnhout.
The EESC opinion focuses on protecting children, who are particularly vulnerable to the problems caused by alcohol abuse. The rapporteur maintained that "in the EU, 5 to 9 million children in families are adversely affected by alcohol." Moreover, the marketing of alcoholic beverages increases the likelihood that children and adolescents will start to use alcohol, and will drink more if they are already using alcohol. In light of this, the EESC calls for a reduction in the exposure of children to alcohol marketing as well as more effective regulation of the availability and distribution of alcohol, as self-regulation in this area is not enough.
Apart from the medical consequences of alcohol abuse, the EESC emphasises the significance of other social and economic effects such as the increase in social costs due to health care and the loss of productivity. Ms van Turnhout also pointed out that "harmful alcohol consumption is a contributory factor for crime, violence and family deprivation, risky sexual behaviour and sexually transmitted diseases".
To raise awareness about the risk of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which includes all the birth defects caused by maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, the EESC supports awareness-raising campaigns at national and EU level.
The full text of these opinions will soon be available in all EU languages on
Click here to read the article that appeared in the Irish Examiner last week on this subject and where the rapporteur for the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Jillian van Turnhout, accused the alcohol industry of orchestraiting a campaign to destroy the report.