Alcohol Action Ireland is calling on all candidates standing in the 2019 European Parliament Elections to make a commitment supporting the World Health Organization (WHO) view that the ‘alcohol industry should have no role in the formulation of alcohol policies, which must be protected from distortion by commercial or vested interests’.1
This view was reiterated most recently by the WHO in April 2019 stating that ‘engagement may be used by the alcohol industry primarily to serve their interests with limited or no benefits for public health; could be conferred as an endorsement of the alcohol industry’s name, brand, product, views, or activity; and considered as a whitewashing of the alcohol industry’s image.’2
This stance is also strongly endorsed by the Health Service Executive in Ireland who note that ‘there is an inherent conflict associated with the alcohol industry playing a role in providing public health advice.3
Harm from alcohol is a serious public health issue both in Ireland and Europe. The harmful use of alcohol is a causal factor in more than 200 disease and injury conditions, according to the World Health Organisation, (WHO) such as liver cirrhosis, heart disease and cancer.
The implications in Ireland around alcohol misuse are stark.4
- Over 1000 deaths per year are attributable to its use
- Every day 1500 beds are occupied by people with alcohol-related problems
- €1.5 billion is spent on alcohol related hospital discharges
- It is a factor in half of all suicides
- 900 people in Ireland are diagnosed with alcohol-related cancers annually
- It is a factor in the vast majority of public order offences
- It is a significant factor in many cases of child neglect
- Drink-driving is a factor in two fifths of all deaths on Irish roads
Added to these concerns – more than 60,000 children in Ireland start drinking each year5
This harm is not unique to Ireland. The WHO European Region has the highest proportion in the world of total ill health and premature death due to the alcohol with the European Union being the heaviest-drinking region in the world.6
Given this heavy toll across Europe we ask that all candidates standing for election make clear their views on this vital public health issue.
- Partnering with alcohol industry on public health is not okay, WHO says. BMJ 2019;365:l1666 doi: 10.1136/bmj.l1666 (Published 9 April 2019)
- Mongan D and Long J (2016). Overview of alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm and alcohol policy in Ireland. HRB Overview.
- European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Dugs 2015