Labour MEPs call for EU action on alcohol-related harm

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A Labour MEP has led a vote in the European Parliament calling for action to reduce alcohol-related harm in Europe.

The resolution, adopted today by the environment and public health committee, calls for the European Commission to begin work on a new alcohol strategy to replace the previous one, which ended in 2012, and to propose legislation on labelling the number of calories in an alcoholic drink, as alcohol was previously excluded from EU rules on food information

Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour’s European spokesperson on health, and author of the resolution, said:

"The last EU Alcohol Strategy had some success but now we urgently need a new strategy to build on that.

"Europe is still the heaviest drinking region in the world, with alcohol the third biggest cause of preventable death and disease, and alcohol-related harm costing the EU economy €155.8 billion (£113bn) a year.

"Alcohol is linked to more than 60 chronic illnesses including cancer, liver disease and heart disease. Alcohol-related harm also has a high social cost through increases in workplace absenteeism, family breakdown and violence.

"Many people don’t realise how many calories are in alcohol and Labour MEPs have always argued for clear, honest labelling.

"Consumers have a right to know a glass of wine has the same number of calories as a slice of cake. This isn't about telling people what to do, but giving them the information they need to make informed, healthier choices."

MEPs are also asking national governments to consider introducing minimum unit pricing, a policy already adopted in Scotland, and for EU-wide labels warning people of the dangers of drink-driving and drinking while pregnant.

Glenis Willmott MEP added:

"The environment and public health committee has made it clear we want the Commission to make tackling alcohol-related harm a priority.

"We’ve sent a strong message to the Commission today and I hope they’ll listen and finally come forward with a new strategy to set out how this will be done."

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