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New Action Plan on Youth Drinking and on Heavy Episodic Drinking (Binge Drinking)

The Action Plan, which focuses on the prevention of alcohol related harm in the fields of youth drinking and heavy episodic drinking, has been endorsed by the Committee on National Alcohol Policy and Action (CNAPA).

The main objectives of the Plan are designed to support the EU Alcohol Strategy in achieving the goal of reducing alcohol related harm. It builds on concerns made in 2001 a Council Recommendation on the drinking patterns of many adolescents, and in particular the increase in binge drinking and heavy drinking among minors.

The target age groups considered as “youth” in this Action Plan include: (a) the unborn child and the baby; (b) children, who must be protected from alcohol related harm caused by others; (c) children below the drinking age limit, to prevent and minimise their alcohol consumption; (d) adolescents and young adults prevent who engage in hazardous drinking.

Young adults tend to be the heaviest drinking age group and in many countries heavy drinking has increased among young women in particular: more than 40% of young Europeans declared binge drinking at least once a week. Young people are also particularly at risk of the short term effects of drunkenness, including accidents and violence. The share of alcohol-related deaths – mainly due to accidents, violence and suicide – among young people is disproportionate, with 25% of male mortality and 10% of female mortality in the 15-29 age group related to harmful alcohol consumption.

The six areas for action outlined in the Plan are:

1. Reduce heavy episodic drinking (binge drinking)

2. Reduce accessibility and availability of alcoholic beverages for youth

3. Reduce exposure of youth to alcohol marketing and advertising

4. Reduce harm from alcohol during pregnancy

5. Ensure a healthy and safe environment for youth

6. Support monitoring and increase research

This Action Plan has a duration of two years and will contribute to achieving the objectives of the EU Alcohol Strategy to support Member States in reducing alcohol related harm. It intends to highlight actions that can be taken in the immediate future by Member States, the Commission or actors across society to step up their work in protecting children and young people, and reducing the harm from heavy episodic drinking.