European Policy Seminar – June 2017
Alcohol Action Ireland and Eurocare hosted a policy seminar to discuss the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), currently before the EU institutions, which represents an important opportunity to strengthen measures to protect children from alcohol marketing.
Europe has one of the highest levels of alcohol consumption in the world and since the non-renewal of the EU Alcohol Strategy which expired in 2012, action to reduce alcohol harm has been effectively left to individual member states. The AVMSD presents a rare opportunity to implement EU wide measures to protect children from exposure to alcohol marketing.
It is well established that advertising influences alcohol consumption and the appeal of and exposure to alcohol advertising is a contributor to underage drinking – a significant risk to the mental and physical health of children.
Effective regulations to limit children’s exposure to marketing of unhealthy products will better protect children and help empower parents in their efforts to educate children about healthy lifestyles. While the Directive has many positive aspects such as the recognition of exposure as problematic, it relies on weak policy measures like self-regulation, and fails to provide effective protection of children from commercial communications.
Speaking at the time of the Seminar, Mariann Skar, Secretary General, Eurocare said:
‘We are deeply disappointed by the voting in the European Parliament and the General approach adopted by the Council in May 2017. Knowledge gathered over the years, clearly states that restricting alcohol advertising is one of the crucial steps we can take to protect children.’
The seminar was addressed by the EU Commissioner for Health and Food, Vytenis Andriukaitis, who in commending progressive public health initiatives and legislative programmes in Member States, such as those in Ireland, said:
‘while there is no one silver bullet that can specifically stop the problems of children drinking so early, there is clear evidence from many international studies and institutions, that multi policy reforms across taxation, pricing, health labelling and robust restrictions on advertising and marketing online sales, are necessary’.