Alcohol: it’s no laughing matter

Ewa-May Karlsson takes the lead for a new and better strategy on alcohol-related harm

Alcohol abuse has a large impact on our society, whether it is on the societal, social or economic level. With her report, Ewa-May Karlsson focuses on future action and prevention plans for alcohol-related issues at the EU level with an important contribution from local authorities.

A new EU alcohol strategy needs to tackle alcohol’s serious societal, social and economic impact while relying on the expertise of local authorities. For this, we need to establish EU-level cooperation platforms, reduce the exposure of babies, children and young people to alcohol marketing and inform customers by listing nutrition information and calories on labels as they have a right to know what they drink, as well as focus on preventive action in healthcare and the workplace

Few people currently realize that the biggest risk factor in the overall burden of disease for people aged 15 to 49 is alcohol – above smoking! The direct social costs of alcohol-related harm within the EU are staggering; estimated at 155.8 billion euro’s, most of which falls outside the healthcare system. It also affects the most vulnerable among us: children. An estimated 5 to 9 million children in the EU live in families adversely affected by alcohol, with increased risk of worse health and educational opportunities.

“Preventative measures during the pregnancy, childhood and adolescence should be prioritized, in order to promote a culture of prevention and health promotion, with schools as an important sphere for promoting health and for early identification of alcohol abuse”Download the report

Karlsson spoke to different stakeholders such as Eurocare, Eurohealtnet, European Chronic disease alliance (ECDA), European public health alliance, EUCAM, Alcohol Policy Youth Network, Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV), Wine in moderation and Brewers of Europe to collect their views on the issues at stake. She also participated at the RARHA (Reducing alcohol related harm) policy dialogue in Brussels on how to foster implementation and sustainability of the findings about alcohol consumption and harm in Europe today. At the 7th European Alcohol Policy Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in November 2016, she contributed in raising awareness about the current burden of alcohol in Europe, looked at the latest development and explored ways in which cost-effective alcohol policies can contribute to creation of sustainable health system savings.

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