The European Parliament´s plenary session has just adopted a resolution calling for a new EU strategy to tackle health harm from alcohol to be put into action for 2016-2022. The Resolution also emphasized the importance of better labelling of alcoholic drinks including ingredients and nutritional information. With this m to remind EU policy makers of the crucial importance of addressing alcohol related harm with a new Alcohol Strategy for the upcoming years and in doing so contribute to considerably reducing health inequalities.
EU Member States (MS) are responsible for their own alcohol policies However, these were complemented by an EU Alcohol Strategy which expired in 2012 and is still to be replaced. Before the ENVI-Committee vote on the Strategy, a coalition of public health NGOs successfully joined forces to make sure that the Committee-supported resolution would not contain public health-hostile amendments.
This advocacy campaign issued two statements:
- Open Letter to MEPs] [EU Alcohol Strategy Resolution should put public health first
- Joint press statement] [European Parliament´s Public Health committee calls for better drinks labelling as part of a new Alcohol Strategy to reduce harm
MAIN AREAS OF CONCERN
- Labelling and advertisement
The new Strategy should encourage MS to adequately inform consumers of the implications of alcohol abuse.
It is crucial to better label alcoholic drinks including ingredients and nutritional information.
- Alcohol Minimum Unit Price (MUP)
An Alcohol Minimum Unit Price (MUP), such as that proposed by the Scottish Government, is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways for society to minimize the damage from alcohol consumption.
In conclusion, this new strategy should:
- Encourage prevention, health promotion and education measures at MS level.
- Give member states the means to address alcohol harm as a public health problem and its related costs.
- Enable alcohol-related harm policies to fit into a more holistic approach to support sustainable health systems and reduce the burden of chronic diseases.
FACTS AND FIGURES
- Alcohol is the leading risk for ill-health and premature death for the core of the working age population (25-59 year).
- As Europe is the world´s heaviest drinking region, alcohol abuse constitutes a major public health problem that inflicts large-scale socio-economic damage. · The social cost attributable to alcohol is 155, 8 billion Euros yearly.
- Alcohol costs societies some 2-3% of GDP, mostly from lost productivity. This figure likely only reflects half of the real costs, as it does not include costs to people other than the drinker.
- Reducing alcohol-induced harm is an active investment in Europe´s economies that cuts long-term healthcare expenditures on severe diseases and raises workforce productivity.
The Resolution will now be tabled for approval by the full European Parliament Plenary so all MEPs should now support this call for new action on alcohol, what should be considered as an investment in health to ensure a stable, robust long-term economic growth.