Estonia holds an international conference on alcohol policyOctober 10, 2017
The Estonian Presidency will hold an international conference ‘Cross-Border Aspects in Alcohol Policy – Tackling Harmful Use of Alcohol’ in Tallinn, on 30-31 October. During the two days, experts from different fields and policy makers will discuss the aspects of alcohol policy where regional or EU-wide cooperation is needed to succeed in reducing the alcohol-related harm in Europe.
The general aim of the conference is to reduce alcohol-related harm in the EU by strengthening member states’ capacities for implementing effective health policy and tackling cross-border issues. Europe is still the region with the highest alcohol consumption in the world. Although alcohol consumption has fallen in European countries, the alcohol-related harm to families and society as a whole continues to be high.
“Most EU member states have their own national alcohol policy, but achieving the goal of reducing the harmful use of alcohol is not easy. To tackle the abuse of alcohol, we need the awareness and readiness of different sectors to implement activities affecting public health, wellbeing and security,” said Maris Jesse, Deputy Secretary General on Health in the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs. “In a globalising world and in the EU’s single market, goods and services can only be effectively regulated through cooperation between member states. In the case of alcoholic beverages, the main cross-border issues are the exception to the labelling of energy content and composition of alcoholic beverages, new media advertising, especially its impact to children and young people, and the purchase of alcoholic beverages for resale from neighbouring countries where alcoholic beverages are cheaper.”
The conference will focus on cross-border issues in alcohol policy, which can dilute the effectiveness of national measures to tackle the harmful use of alcohol. The labelling of alcoholic beverages, cross-border purchases of alcohol, and marketing will be in focus at the conference. In addition, discussions will be held on research and monitoring concerning alcohol policy.
The main speaker of the conference is Martin McKee, a professor of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Europe’s most recognised and influential health scientist. “Just like the tobacco industry, alcohol companies have worked hard to reach voluntary agreements with governments, rather than legal provisions. They say that these will work better because everyone is agreed. But of course this is nonsense,” said Martin McKee. “For example, the companies promised to put clear health warnings on their products in England but a subsequent study found that many had not.”
A number of health, agriculture, culture and finance experts will discuss the topics of the conference, and alcohol producers are also expected to speak about their initiatives. Computer and Communication Industry Association (CCIA) representative Maud Sacquet will talk about possibilities for the self-regulation of new media (including social media platforms). The CCIA is a non-profit organisation that promotes innovation and society’s access to information, and is an advocate for open markets, systems and fair competition in the telecommunications and web industry. Among others, the members of the association also include Google and Facebook.
The conference is organised by the Ministry of Social Affairs as part of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of European Union. Participation in the event is by invitation only, but it can also be followed via livestream on the Estonian Presidency website.