The 5th Plenary Meeting of the European Alcohol and Health Forum was held on 12 November at the Centre Borschette in Brussels. EPHA, its members and other civil society organisations met for a pre-meeting to discuss the key issues on the agenda.
Robert Madelin, Director General of Health and Consumers opened the meeting and welcomed the participants. After approval of the agenda, he spoke of the current European political climate.
Open Alcohol Forum
Mr. Madelin presented the satisfaction survey of participants to the Open Alcohol Forum 2009 and expressed disappointment at the low number of responses received. Suggestions were then given for the Open Forum 2010, in particular the representation of one of each key stakeholder: one for the Member States, one for the NGO sector and one for the industry.
Ms. Ceri Thompson, (DG Sanco C4) presented the report from the Science Group on the progress made in 2009. The report also dealt with possible future topics, such as, Alcohol and the Workplace, and Alcohol access, availability and harm. The presentation launched a discussion amongst the participants who agreed to focus on alcohol and the workplace.
Mr. Madelin presented the outcomes and conclusions of the Task Force on Marketing Communication. Based on the Chair’s report of March 2008, he presented the progress since, including the three reports prepared by Stirling University on social marketing, targeting youth, and a mapping of self-regulation. Ms. Henrieke Crielaard, Policy Advisor at the Dutch Food Retail Association, presented Eurocommerce guidance for retailers to help reduce alcohol-related harm. The Eurocommerce Secretariat, national associations and the companies propose different recommendations according to the national context.
Youth issues were addressed through two presentations.
The first one was a synthesis report on the effectiveness of alcohol education in schools in the European Union, undertaken by the University of Stirling. The second presentation was given by the European Commission. Following a recommendation from January 2009, a clearing house of initiatives on alcohol and youth health is being established. Ms. Thompson, informed the Forum on the progress so far. The aim is to create an inventory of initiatives and projects on alcohol and youth health in order to promote good practices, support stakeholders and establish a resource for implementing alcohol policies. An advisory group was created and designed an approach dealing with online resources, and a prototype exists for demonstration. The next steps of this project are to continue to refine internet resources, to further develop quality criteria and to share proposals for name and visual identity.
The afternoon session was devoted to the members’ commitments, labelling issues, and data collection, indicators and definition.
Pieter de Coninck, (DG SANCO Unit C4) presented the status of the Forum members’ commitments. Of the 115 commitments in the database, there are three main areas:
Information and education on responsible consumption.
Information and education on harmful drinking,
Responsible commercial communication.
However, Mr Madelin expressed his disappointment as regard the low number of active commitments submitted by Forum members. As of 1 January 2010, there will only be 43.
RAND Europe, an organisation whose mission is to help improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis, presented its evaluation of the EU Alcohol and Health Forum. The anaylsis revealed three recommendations:
Pay greater attention to relevant details,
Emphasise relevance of commitments,
Provide more clarity in differentiating inputs, outputs, outcomes and impacts. Finally, the evaluation concluded that adopting better monitoring practices is not a difficult undertaking. It is about adopting a “monitoring mindset” that understands what information is required for successful monitoring.
Mariann Skar presented Eurocare’s work on labelling. Labelling is a tool to raise awareness of the risks associated with alcohol consumption. Therefore, health warning labels are an efficient method to inform consumers about the real risk of drinking alcohol. Eurocare’s views and recommendations were illustrated through numerous shock pictures conveying key messages such as: “1 in 4 of all road deaths involve alcohol”, “drink and work don’t mix”, and “alcohol may cause health problems”. The floor was then open to debate.
The Forum was well attended and the participants had the chance to express their views and opinions.
For More Information about the Alcohol and Health Forum click here
EPHA Related Articles
EPHA Urges EU Presidency to Reduce Alcohol-Related Harm
Second Conference on Alcohol Marketing in Europe
EESC position on alcohol-related harm in European society
First Progress Report on the implementation of the EU 2006 Strategy on Alcohol
Health and Europe Centre to host ’WASTED: An International Conference on Alcohol and Young People’
Alcohol and Health Forum - Science Group 2008