The 8th European Alcohol Policy Conference took place from November 20th to 21st in Edinburgh, Scotland. Presentations were made on justice, health, gender, economics, youth and recovery by Government officials, as well as representatives from the World Health Organization, the European Commission and the academic sector.
Delegates heard how:
- There is no threshold for safe drinking, all levels bring risk
- Those with an alcohol misuse problems are victims to the alcohol industry and the shocking data on alcohol related harm is a call to arms. In particular, children and pregnant women need to be protected
- Very deprived families have very complex problems where alcohol is just one piece of the problem, alcohol misuse cannot be address in isolation
- Too often alcohol policy is thought of as a choice between health and wealth and a stumbling block for alcohol policy is the concern it will harm the economy. However, where the alcohol industry will lose, other sectors will gain-If people are not spending their money on alcohol, they will spend it on other goods
Some key recommendation for policy makers from the conference included:
- An increase in population awareness and bottom up action will encourage change
- Alcohol policy should reduce harm and help those with a misuse issue rather than demonise individuals
- Lived experience must be included in alcohol policy development
- Alcohol policy must recognise the importance of the environment (i.e. marketing and availability of alcohol)
In addition, Scottish Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing Joe Fitzpatrick launched the 20 point alcohol framework plan to shift Scotland’s alcohol culture.
The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) presented a poster at the conference on its recent review of Northern Ireland's Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs. The final report on this review is due to be published by the Department of Health (NI) shortly.