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1st European Alcohol Policy Conference in the Context of a Larger Europe:

Bridging the GAP

16-19 June 2004 Hotel Sofitel Victoria -Warsaw - Poland

Report by EUROCARE, included in the new issue of "THE GLOBE" No 1 & 2 - 2004

Report by H.T. Meyer: 

Organizer:        Eurocare       

Co-Sponsors:    PARPA  The State Agency for Prevention of
                                     Alcohol-Related Problems
                        EPHA     The European Public Health Alliance
                        YFJ        The European Youth Forum
                        ECF        European Cultural Foundation

Final Programme                                                                

Introduction - General Impression

- Eurocare has organized a conference, which was of a remarkably friendly character and with participants who kept quite well to the timetable. (With the exception of some rather unpleasant remarks at beginning by representatives of the alcohol industry.) 

- on a rather luxurious scale that offered first class conditions for a smooth handling of it

- which spoiled the participants with delicious food from the hotel kitchen what culminated in the Galadinner at the festive and splendid Center Hall of the Technical University. 

This Conference was the beginning of the project "Bridging the Gap", which had like this an excellent start. During the conference 4 working groups were established including delegates of the countries which are involved in Eurocare. For Switzerland Matthias Meyer (for SFA) works in the group "Alcohol-Policy-Advocacy". In addition there are planned a summer school of the group "Youth and Alcohol", other meetings of researchers with those who want to work with their research results, etc. We are looking forward!

To balance the more theoretical lectures there were included with great success a number of different artistic or didactic elements:

- From England was brought a pair of comic artists with mensize handpuppies who played the roles of a journalist and a director of a big brewery. With aggressive dialogues and typical English sense of humor they helped to relax. Those lecturers who spoke too long they reminded from their balcony to find an end: Rick Conte, Edinburgh, Jasper King und Matt Rudkin (Writer and Director) e-mail:

- As additional artistic component acted a lady cartoonist Dagmara Pater, Berlin (, who created continuously sarcastic cartoons about the alcohol problem and made an exhibition.

- A female devil's advocate, Jo Revill, Health Editor of The Observer, UK, was invited in order to speak out the voice of the counterparts or of the people.

- The biggest artistic contribution came from a Polish nonprofessional theatre group "Wybrzezak" which played a specially for this occasion in English produced multimedia theatre piece"Alcoholiens". This company has attracted much domestic and international attention with its work with children and adolescents, confronting them with hard social issues; such as drug and alcohol abuse, sexual behavior, school pestering and family violence. In the fall, Alcoholiens will tour for several months Polish high schools as a public health educational project. Wybrzezak has been part of the international program Art for Social Change, run by the European Cultural Foundation and became, through this program, one of regional resource centers for participative arts.

Instead of 200 as was hoped, there came 350 experts from 33 countries, including from outside Europe (USA, Canada, Sri Lanka, New Zealand). Fortunately 120 participants came from the host country Poland, using this unique opportunity to get in contact with international experts. Switzerland was well represented by 12 qualified participants (3 from international organisations) and brought several lecturers. The alcohol industry was represented within the Belgium delegation with 8 persons, who, not surprisingly had a difficult position.

Of course it gave always a certain feeling of satisfaction to the reporter when he could refer in discussions that an information asked for was already on the website. By the time the interest in the website grew and it was also furthered by a big poster, specially created for this event. This poster will be included in the homepage. Later on will be a German version too. All the participants on the list with an e-mail address will get the next newsletter, that they can test if it is worthwhile for them to have it.


Results for Switzerland

The Swiss participants held friendly and easy contact and used the opportunities to get to know the working field of the others and to change informations and experiences, which will be useful for the future work.

Regarding the practical usefulness and the professional performance, the presentation of "Figures and Facts" from the Swiss Institute SFA by its so far head of the documentation center was a real highlight.

The outcome of the conference for Switzerland I see as follows:

1. It is very important that our national policy makers and the departments involved are represented at such conferences to get first hand informations.

2. The Public Health administration should contact the ministry of trade regarding WTO/GATS very soon. (See lecture 01) 

3. Facts-based prevention about measures that are really effective has to be strengthened and explained to the public and to politicians. 

4. Switzerland needs a comprehensive alcohol policy at the interest of public health.


The lectures, workshops and discussions

Eurocare is planning to publish the lectures on its website. We shall include here the links and some personal comments and additional remarks, which cannot be complete, as the reporter could choose only one workshop out of up to 6 offered ones each day. 

01. Jim Grieshaber-Otto, Independent Trade Policy Consultant at Cedar Isle Research, BC, Canada:
World Trade Organization and alcohol policy.           ak

The lectures, workshops and discussions (Contin.)

02. Dr. Peter Anderson MD, PhD, MPH, International Consultant in Public Health: 
The Risk of Alcohol in Europe

03. Sally Casswell, Prof. of Social and Health Research, Director of the Centre for Social and Health Outcome Research and Evaluation (SHORE) at Massey University, New Zealand, Chair of the Alcohol Policy Strategy Advisory Committee WHO: 
No Ordinary Commodity: Alcohol and Public Policy

04. Prof. Thomas F. Babor, Ph.D, M.P.H. Professor and Chairman of Community Medicine and Health Care, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, CT, USA: 
Communicating About Alcohol:
Educational and Regulatory Policies

05. Dr. Alain Rigaud, President of ANPA, Expert on Alcohol and Drug problems for the French Minister of Health, Lecturer at Universities: 
The Loi Evin


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