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European Commission's Alcohol and Health Forum will test alcohol industry's ability to commit to Action

Brussels, 17 October 2007. Today, the Directorate for Public Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission (DG SANCO) will hold the first plenary meeting of the Alcohol and Health Forum. This multistakholder forum, modelled on the EU Platform for Diet, Physical Activity and Health, brings together actors pledging to take concrete actions to reduce alcohol related harm in Europe, now the heaviest drinking region in the world.

This Forum 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, which now costs the EU €125 billion every year due to ill health, accidents and injuries, crime and lost productivity.[i]

Launched in June 2007, the Forum counts over 40 members - businesses as well as NGO's, including Eurocare, and several of its national members.[ii] European Institutions, the World Health Organisation, and EU Member States, will participate as observers. A Committee on National Policy and Action, a structure separate of the Forum, will allow Member States to coordinate national alcohol policies, whilst the Forum remains a platform for concrete action. This separation is fundamental, as Eurocare believe public health policies should be formulated without the interference of commercial interests.

Mariann Skar, Secretary General of Eurocare said: “The Forum will certainly test the alcohol industry's ability to face their responsibilities and commit to actions aimed at reducing alcohol related harm. We trust the Science Group will ensure that the industry's commitments are relevant to the aims of the Forum, and, more importantly, are evidence based. Actions solely focused on education and centred around public information campaigns are insufficient.”

Commenting on the two Task Forces on Young People and Commercial Communications, she added: “We will be closely following the development of these two Task Forces which will bring together experts to discuss these key issues which need addressing urgently. Self-regulation has consistently proved to be ineffective, and there are clear links between the exposure of young people to alcohol advertising and their levels of consumption [iii]

Notes to Editors

The Charter establishing the European Alcohol Health Forum

Media Contact

Mariann Skar, Secretary General

Emilie Rapley, Policy Officer

Eurocare EU Liaison Office

Tel: +32 2 736 39 76

[i] Anderson, P & Baumberg, B (2005) ‘Alcohol in Europe: A Public Health Perspective', Institute of Alcohol Studies, London.

[ii] Eurocare (The European Alcohol Policy Alliance) joined the Forum as a founding member, whilst several of its members are affiliates: ANPAA (Agence Nationale de Prévention en Alcoologie et Addictologie) France; Eurocare Italia; Institute of Alcohol Studies,UK; Alcohol Action Ireland; STAP (National Foundation for Alcohol Prevention) Netherlands; IOGT-NTO, Sweden; DHS (German Centre for Addictions); Estonian Temperance Union.

[iii] See ELSA Report - Enforcement of national Laws and Self-regulation on advertising and marketing of Alcohol