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18/11/2010

Alcohol industry called upon to take more effective action!

Brussels, 17 November 2010. Ahead of the next Alcohol and Health Forum meetings, public health experts and NGOs in the Forum have issued an Open Letter to its members calling upon the alcohol industry to take responsibility for their share of the problems caused by their products in Europe.

The EU Alcohol and Health Forum (EAHF) will meet this Thursday and Friday under the auspices of the new Director General, Ms. Paola Testori Coggi. These meetings will mark the beginning of a new era in the Forum.

There have been several positive outcomes of the Forum, in terms of discussions and reports produced. Furthermore, it has increased action and coordination among NGOs.

However, the NGOs in the Forum feel that it could achieve a lot more if the economic operators have not been continously trying to divert attention into unproductive areas.

Most of the commitments made by the economic operators to the Forum are in the areas of education and information. Alcohol industry educational programs and information campaigns are often misguiding and use ambiguous terminology.

They are mainly a disguised advertising and simply serve to advance the industry's public relations interests.

Marian Skar, Secretary General of Eurocare, a European-wide advocacy group which campaigns to reduce alcohol-related harms, said:

‘We would like to call on the economic operators to commit to actions that are meaningful and effective. For example, inform consumers about what is in their drinks (ingredients, kilocalories etc); disclose their expenditure on marketing activities; refer in their advertisements to the actual characteristics of their products instead of suggesting that the portrayed lifestyle can be attained by drinking alcohol, and stop selling to minors. From a more practical point of view, they could reduce harm by introducing plastic glassware at high risk venues'

Click here to read the letter.

Notes to editors:

Media contact: Mariann Skar, Eurocare Secretary General. Mariann.skar@eurocare.org
Tel +32 (0)2 736 05 72, GSM+32(0) 474 830 041
Rue des Confédérés 96-98
1000 Brussels, Belgium

EUROCARE (The European Alcohol Policy Alliance) is an alliance of organizations working on the prevention and reduction of alcohol related harm in Europe. Member organisations are involved in research and advocacy, as well as in the provision of counselling services and residential support for problem drinkers, the provision of workplace and school based programmes and the provision of information to the public.

Eurocare advocates the prevention of alcohol related harm in Europe through effective evidence based alcohol policy. www.eurocare.org

Facts on alcohol:

- Europe is the heavies drinking region of the world
- 7.4% of all ill health and premature death in the EU is due to alcohol
- alchol is a cause of some 60 dieseases and conditions
- chronic diseases, to which alcohol is the 3rd main contributory factor1, are in the top of global risks next to such threats like fiscal crises2.
- 25% of all male deaths and 11% of all female deaths between 15-29 are due to alcohol
- 80 million Europeans aged 15 years plus reported binge drinking at least once a week in 2006
- Alcohol related disease, injury and violence cost the EU €125 bn in 2003

Facts on the European Alcohol and Health Forum:

The EU Alcohol and Health Forum is a multistakeholder forum that brings together actors pledging to take concrete actions to reduce alcohol related harm in Europe, now the heaviest drinking region in the world.

3rd Open Forum will be held in Brussels (Centre Albert Borschette) on 19 November 2010 from 10h00 till 17h00.

For more information, please follow the link:
http://ec.europa.eu/health/alcohol/events/open220410_en.htm

The Forum was established by Directorate for Public Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission (DG SANCO) in 2007 and it constitutes the backbone of the Commission's “EU Strategy to Support Member States in Reducing
Alcohol Related Harm”. Released in October 2006, this strategy finally saw the day after years of mounting pressure to tackle the harm done by alcohol.

Launched in June 2007, the Forum counts over 40 members - businesses as well as NGO's, including Eurocare, and several of its national members. A Committee on National Policy and Action, a structure separate of the Forum, allows Member States to coordinate national alcohol policies, whilst the Forum remains a platform for concrete action.

To download the Charter establishing the European Alcohol Health Forum, please follow the link:

http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_determinants/life_style/alcohol/alcohol_charter_en.htm