Briefe an ....

                               June 3, 2005

European Commission
DG Health and Consumer Protection
B-1049 Brussels

 

Re: Meeting of the Working Group on Alcohol and Health
Luxembourg, 07-08 March 2005

Dear Sir,

I was invited by EUROCARE to give my personal opinion regarding the EU Strategy on Alcohol as it had been discussed at the above meeting. 

In general I quite agree with the aims and measures in this strategy report. It is very much needed and urgent that the European Union takes strong steps in this field. As citizen of a non EU country I am much interested that you go ahead because it would influence also the alcohol politics in Switzerland which is handicapped by the strong lobbying of the alcohol industry.

Here my remarks:

 

Comments to EU strategy on Alcohol

By Hermann T. Meyer, Lindenstr. 32, CH-8307 Effretikon. (www.alkoholpolitik.ch)

  1. Drinking and driving:

The aim is not clear enough, it is better to give a specific goal like 40% less deaths by the end of 2010.

 

  1. Underage-Drinking:

The proposed measures are not fully satisfying. It is not mentioned that youth is the mirror of society. As long as the adult society gives such a bad example, the adolescents will not accept our prevention measures. The effect will be small, as so far, except of the pricing.

(See: “Alkohol und Massenmedien” (Alcohol and massmedia), WHO Regional Publications Nr. 62 1998; page 4: the social reality stands against prevention, which is not credible.

The aim must be as well to reduce the presence of alcohol in society: publicity in sports, in cinemas, in TV must stop.

It is not enough to start measures against juveniles who can’t defend themselves, just to show that something has been done (alibi function) but as adults not to take responsibility and accept some restrictions for themselves.

See also: Summary record of the meeting of the Working Group on “Alcohol and Health” on 7 and 8 March 2005 in Luxembourg: Point 4:

    …”the importance not to underrate education. With reference to the presentation, Working Group
    members concluded that overall alcohol consumption must be reduced to reduce harm and that       
    taxation is the most cost-effective policy option.”

      But education must have special aims and methods otherwise it is not credible.

 

  1. Commercial communication:

     The aim is not clear enough: Reduce exposure…. To what extent! The industry will always say it is      reduced enough. In Switzerland they get even more possibilities on private local TV.

“Ensure that no commercial communication encourages excessive or harmful use of alcohol.”  The industry will never feel guilty in this point.

„Participate in a process of co-regulation, whereby self-regulatory approaches adopted by the beverage alcohol industry are monitored by an independent body.”
This independent body should have acting power to stop advertising immediately and give strong penalties.


4. Availability and price of alcohol:

     “Actions

       Invite the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee to      discuss the rates of excise duty applied to alcohol and alcoholic beverages, and travellers’
     allowances”

I would like to recommend that my proposal of a project to rise excise duties on alcoholic beverages be discussed. It is available on my website www.alkoholpolitik.ch . (page project) Alcohol taxes should reflect the damage which society has to finance because of alcohol. It should also reduce the overall consumption of alcohol which is in correlation with the burden of alcohol on society. But in order to get a taxation which is high enough to reach this aim, it is necessary to spend part of the tax income for prevention in a wider sense, which can attract the public to agree. (Culture and sports) And part of the income should be used to help the alcohol producers in a specific country to find new ways to exist or to change to an other profession.

Only if a country gets more money from alcohol taxes it can afford to build up all the necessary programmes and research work. The same applies to the Non Governmental Organisations. This project would make it available.

 
Thank you for your attention. I wish you success in your important task.

Yours sincerely                                                                   

Hermann T. Meyer

 

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Herausgeber/Editor:

Hermann T. Meyer, Projekte und Dienstleistungen, Lindenstr. 32, CH-8307 Effretikon, Switzerland, 
Tel. +41 (0)52 343 58 75, Fax: +41 (0)52 343 59 29    e-mail

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