23 February 2024 News

Eurocare's Secretary General Moderates Launch of "Alcohol and the Brain" Report at the European Parliament

Eurocare's Secretary General, Florence Berteletti, moderated the launch event of the "Alcohol and the Brain" report on 22 February at the European Parliament. The event, hosted by IOGT-NTO and the European Brain Council (EBC), brought together key experts and stakeholders to delve into the critical issues surrounding alcohol consumption and its impact on cognitive and neurological health.

Among the participants were MEP Malin Björk (The Left, Sweden); Ann Marie Borg, National coordinator for Belgium at Expertise France; Maria Neufeld, Technical Officer in the Alcohol, Illicit Drugs & Prison Health Programme at WHO Europe; Sven Andreasson, Professor at Karolinska Institutet; Arnt Schellekens, Secretary Section Addiction Psychiatry, European Psychiatric Association; and Frédéric Destrebecq, Executive Director of EBC.

During the event, MEP Malin Björk emphasised the unfortunate normalization of alcohol, even within political spheres, and stressed politicians' responsibility to implement evidence-based alcohol policies. The experts highlighted that reducing alcohol consumption, including binge drinking, stands out as a crucial modifiable approach to promote cognitive and neurological health while preventing or minimizing brain-related harms. Effective alcohol control policies, such as those addressing affordability, availability, and acceptability, were discussed as key strategies. Key recommendations from the event and report included:

  1. Reducing Affordability: Implementing pricing and taxation strategies. Setting minimum or unit prices was identified as an effective approach to reducing consumption and alcohol related harm.
  2. Reducing Availability: Advocating for restrictions on sales hours, days, and liquor outlet density, along with enforcing legal drinking age restrictions, as proven methods to control alcohol consumption. Maintaining government alcohol monopolies, was highlighted as a mechanism to manage and prevent increased population consumption.
  3. Reducing Acceptability: Supporting restrictions on alcohol marketing and advertising, especially targeting adolescents and young adults. Labelling alcohol containers with health warnings, such as cancer risks, was recommended to enhance public support for policies designed to reduce affordability and availability.

The event concluded with a call to action for policymakers to prioritise science-based alcohol policies, echoing the urgent need for a paradigm shift in addressing alcohol-related challenges.

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