The European Parliament has adopted a resolution that calls for a new EU Alcohol Strategy for 2016-2022.
Alcohol was left out of new EU rules on food and drinks labelling - the Food Information to Consumers Regulation - which entered into force on 13 December, 2014 and the EU’s latest strategy to tackle alcohol-related abuse expired in 2013. Therefore both MEPs and Ministers have lost their patience with the Commission and ask for a new strategy in order to take action on the health impacts of alcohol and the executive should submit a legislative proposal to this end in 2016 at the latest.
The new strategy should have plans for alcoholic beverages labeling including ingredients and nutritional information with special focus on calories, and the need to raise awareness across the EU of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and drink driving.
Misuse of alcohol is the second largest lifestyle-related cause of disease in some member states and alcohol addiction is a risk factor in over 60 chronic diseases, including alcoholic liver disease (ALD), alcoholic chronic pancreatitis and almost all other digestive diseases, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and neuropsychiatric disorders such as alcohol dependence.
Alcohol abuse causes 3.3 million premature deaths worldwide each year, or 5.9% of the total. In the 20-39 age group, roughly 25% of all deaths can be attributed to alcohol abuse. These deaths often follow accidents, acts of violence or liver disease. Moreover Alcohol-related harm costs Europe at least 2-3% of GDP, mostly from lost productivity and massive healthcare costs.
Alcohol abuse is a major public health issue in every EU country that requires coordinated action. “The Parliament vote, coupled with the call from EU Health Ministers should shame the Commission into action on alcohol. Years of EU inaction have allowed the alcohol industry to hide the harm – and even the calories – in their drinks. The Commission is currently fixated on “Better Regulation”, but what’s “Better” about the Commission failing in its duty to protect public health?“ concluded Nina Renshaw, EPHA Secretary-General.
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