PRESS RELEASE: European Parliament Report on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) must be altered to protect European Citizens from alcohol harms.
European Parliament Report on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) must be altered to protect European Citizens from alcohol harms.
An appeal from Liver doctors and European Alcohol Policy Alliance
Monday 6 November 2023 (Brussels, Belgium) – The European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), the foremost and largest professional medical society on liver health in Europe, together with the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare), urge Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to make the right choice for all Europeans in line with WHO recommendations, scientific evidence and popular requests.
On Tuesday 7th of November, the members of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) will vote on the initiative report on Non-Communicable Diseases by the Subcommittee on Public Health (SANT).
The report has great potential to tackle key areas for the prevention of non-communicable diseases. However, amendments to the alcohol-related sections have weakened the report. These amendments are a result to the lobbying and influence of the alcohol industry, which should have no role in formulating health policy.
Alcohol is a causal factor for more than 200 non-communicable diseases, health conditions and injuries, including 7 types of cancer, liver diseases, obesity and cardiovascular diseases[i]. Europe is the highest alcohol-consuming region in the world and, as a result, has the highest level of alcohol harms and deaths. Alcohol is a group 1 human carcinogen and is associated with over 740,000 new cancer cases each year globally[ii].
On the launch of the EASL-Lancet Commission report, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission stated that “Each year, almost 300,000 people in Europe die prematurely due to problems of the liver”. These liver problems are determined by population alcohol consumption.
In their desire to maximize profits, the alcohol industry actively and aggressively obstructs policies to reduce alcohol harms and deaths[iii]. They do this in the face of clear evidence of the effectiveness of these policies, in their desire to maximise profits.
EASL and EUROCARE urge policy-makers to vote in favour of evidence-based policies to reduce alcohol consumption, and thus reduce the enormous burden of health-related, social, and economic harms caused by alcohol. Evidence-based interventions which reduce population-level alcohol consumption are both effective and cost-effective at reducing harmful health, social and economic impacts.
Therefore, we are urging MEPs to REJECT BLOC VOTE 2 (for Compromise Amendments 3,6,7 + recitals). Indeed, taken together, these compromise amendments contradict one another and are inconsistent with the clear scientific evidence on the adverse health implications of alcohol consumption.
We are also asking the MEPs to REJECT compromise amendments under paragraph 3, paragraph 6 and under paragraph 7.
The wording of these amendments is misleading as it undermines the fact that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.
“Decision makers need to fulfil the right of their citizens to get basic alcohol health information. Currently, 97% of wine and over 75% of spirits products carry no ingredient information”, says Florence Berteletti, Secretary General at Eurocare.
“It is clear that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, and that all alcohol consumption involves a certain amount of risk. Alcohol products should carry mandatory health warnings, a full listing of ingredients, and a nutrition declaration”, stated Prof. Frank Murray, EASL Policy and Public Health Committee Member.
The influence of the alcohol industry influence on alcohol health policy is harmful and must stop. European citizens have the right to be informed about the risk of alcohol consumption and protected from the interests of the alcohol industry.
| The scientific evidence is clear and well-documented regarding the risks of alcohol consumption. An IARC presentation on alcohol's link to cancer and other NCDs is attached, along with EASL's recent policy statement on alcohol harm reduction and other links:
[ii] Karlsen TH, Sheron N, Zelber-Sagi S, et al. The EASL-Lancet Liver Commission: protecting the next generation of Europeans against liver disease complications and premature mortality. Lancet. 2022;399(10319):61-116. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01701-3
[iii] Rice P. With evidence on alcohol policies being stronger than ever, now is the time for governments to act Institute for Alcohol Studies. Institute for Alcohol Studies. December 14, 2022. Accessed April 3, 2023. https://www.ias.org.uk/2022/12/14/with-evidence-on-alcohol-policiesbeing stronger-than-ever-now-is-the-time-for-governments-to-act/