Commission stresses the need for action to protect young people from alcohol-related harm at the EU Alcohol and Health Forum

Although minimum drinking age in most EU Member states is set at 18 years old, the most recent European surveys show that half of school children aged 15 to16 years have drunk alcohol in the past month. In order to tackle this situation and take action to protect young people, experts, industry and other stakeholder have met at the the 9th plenary meeting of the European Alcohol and Health Forum held in in Brussels on 19 October.

Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli, joined for the first time the plenary meeting of the European Alcohol and Health Forum and took the opportunity to stress the need for collaboration between all stakeholders in action against harmful drinking. In his address to the Forum, Commissioner Dalli also highlighted that the European Union has been one of the forerunners in creating an action-based process to address this collective concern.

Reminding the crucial role of Member States' authorities in enforcement of the minimum drinking age legislation, calling on the retail chain to step up efforts to further enhance compliance with legal age limits or reinforcing youth organisations and others to help monitor compliance, were some of the demands expressed by Commissioner to the Forum. Marketing and advertising as well as the need to develop common standards and implementing code of conducts were identified as some of the key issues to tackle alcohol related harm.

The European Alcohol and Health Forum was set up by the European Commission in 2007 in the context of the EU Strategy on Alcohol, to mobilise action across society to reduce alcohol related harm. Its members include over 60 industry and trade associations and non-governmental organisations committed to reducing alcohol-related harm.

Alcohol abuse is one of the 4 risk factors for developing non-communicable diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. EU action, such as initiatives by the Alcohol and Health Forum on harmful alcohol consumption or EU funded projects addressing alcohol-related harm issues, will help to implement further this so-called New York agenda.