Alcohol consumption is a growing public health and social concern in the EU. Europe has the highest proportion of drinkers in the world, the highest levels of alcohol consumption per capita and a high level of alcohol-related harm. Latest statistics show that 7.4% of all ill-health and early death in the EU is caused by harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption.
While alcohol is a significant economic commodity and also represents a cultural value in many regions, it is clear that there are many serious health issues attached. Harmful and hazardous consumption has a broader social impact such as violence, family problems, crime, social exclusion and low productivity at work. In order to confront these issues, it is vital to implement effective alcohol-related policies at all levels.
Five years have passed since the European Commission adopted a milestone for reducing alcohol-related harm with a key Communication setting out a strategy to support Member States and establishing an Alcohol and Health Forum. The dissemination of good practices has helped to demonstrate the positive steps that have been made but it is clear, however, that there is still much to be done.
If you have any good solutions to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol misuse in the EU, I invite you to post them on the European Citizen Engagement Platform www.public-policies.eu. This problem will be tackled at the international symposium “No Half Measures: Revitalising Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategies in Europe,” Brussels, October 18, 2011, organized by Public Policy Exchange.