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People or profits: Who's being served?

On 25 October what will the Commission decide?

Leading public health agencies and non-governmental organizations in Europe are calling on the European Commission to resist alcohol industry pressure to abandon its alcohol harm reduction strategy.

Even before it has been officially published, the alcohol industry has stepped up its attempts to block the adoption of the strategy due to be discussed by the College of Commissioners on Wednesday 11 October. The strategy was drawn up following lengthy discussion with the health ministries of all the member states.

Dr. Michel Craplet, the Chairman of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance says that “It is now time for the Commission to take a lead and show that it really means to serve the well-being of European citizens rather than the commercial interests of the alcohol industry”.

Dr. Peter Anderson, the author of an influential report for the Commission on alcohol harm calls on the European Commission “to have the courage to actually come up with measures that will make a difference”.

Europeans drink more than anyone else in the world and European society is suffering because of it. Alcohol drains the European economy by 125 billion euros every year.

Alcohol inflicts an enormous toll on European ill-health from birth to the grave. Over 60,000 underweight births are due to alcohol each year, and drinking during pregnancy is a major cause of birth defects with life long consequences. More than a quarter of young adult deaths in men are due to alcohol, and 10,000 suicides are caused by alcohol each year. In older age, 50,000 Europeans die each year of an alcohol caused cancer, including 11,000 female deaths from breast cancer.

Children bear the brunt of alcohol related harm. One in six of child abuse is due to alcohol and more than 7 million children live in families wrecked by alcohol.

Two fifths of all domestic violence inflicted on women is due to alcohol and alcohol is a cause of two fifths of all murders.

Failure to adopt the strategy now will set back for years the cause of tackling one of major causes of ill-health and premature death and a wide range of social problems affecting young people disproportionately.

Notes to the editors:

1. Reference: The report ‘Alcohol in Europe: a public health perspective' can be downloaded from the European Commission's Health Portal, <>

Key Facts from the ‘Alcohol in Europe' report attached.

2. EUROCARE is an alliance of 45 voluntary and non-governmental organisations from all over Europe dedicated to promote the prevention and reduction of alcohol related harm in Europe.

3. Media contacts:

Andrew McNeill, Honorary Secretary

Tel: + 44 1480 466766

Mobile: + 44 7981 195139

Michel Craplet, Chairman

Tel: + 33 1 4233 5104

Mobile: + 33 6 8776 4281

Brussels Liaison Office

Tel: + 32 2 233 3874