Press release by Eurocare

European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) welcomes the publication of the European Commission’s long-awaited report on alcohol labelling in line with Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011. It is thanks to Commissioner’s Andriukaitis persistence that consumers might soon be better informed about what is in alcoholic beverages they drink.

Mariann Skar, Eurocare Secretary General said: ‘We welcome the report as it clearly recognises the need for better alcohol labelling and widespread support for it. Disappointingly, the conclusions do not seem to be in line as it asks for self-regulatory proposal from the industry. Self-regulation is not a suitable regulatory mechanism. Member States in the European Council should follow up and empower the European Commission to take regulatory actions’.

For the consumers to make a truly informed choice all alcoholic beverages should follow the current provisions in the Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, that is per 100ml.

Listing ingredients contained in a beverage alerts the consumers to the presence of any potentially harmful or problematic substances. Even more importantly, providing nutritional information such as energy content allows consumers to monitor their diets better, and makes it easier to keep a healthy lifestyle. Labels need to be regarded as an opportunity for impact over time, rather than setting the expectation that they will affect immediate behavioural change.

Alcohol contains a considerable number of calories, with an energy content 7.1 kilocalories per gram -  only fat has higher energy value per gram (9kcal/g).
Europe is the world’s heaviest drinking region, with some European countries ranking around 2 times above the global average.

‘To date, European legislation has greatly failed to allow consumers to make an informed choice about the alcoholic products they are purchasing, we are hoping that publication of today’s report will be a first step to align alcohol with other food products’, said Mariann Skar, Secretary General of European Alcohol Policy Alliance.

In 2015 Eurocare conducted a consumer survey which found that only 24.7% of the respondents search for information online regarding ingredients or additives in their alcoholic beverages. Labels remain the best option to inform consumers at the point of sale and consumption about the nutritional value and ingredients. 50.4% of respondents indicated they would like to have more information about ingredient listing, 43.2% regarding calorie content and 37.9% nutritional value. Overall labelling information currently provided to the consumers is not sufficient.

European Alcohol Policy Alliance strongly believes that it is the right of the consumers to be allowed to make informed and easily comparable choices about the products they purchase. For the next year, we will be closely monitoring the industry’s voluntary actions.


European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare)
Mariann Skar                     Secretary General
GSM                                     +32 (0) 474 830 041

The European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) is an alliance of non-governmental and public health organisations with 60 member organisations across 24 European countries advocating prevention and reduction of alcohol related harm in Europe. Member organisations are involved in advocacy and research, as well as in the provision of information and training on alcohol issues and the service for people whose lives are affected by alcohol problems.

MP Erik Ziengs (Liberal Party) will shortly introduce a members bill to change the current Alcohol Licensing and Catering Act. Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy STAP laid a hand on the text of the bill.

If the bill will be adopted, mildly alcoholic beverages as beer, wine and low alcohol content spirits can be sold off premise without licence everywhere (even on the street).

Furthermore, the bill of Ziengs makes it possible that every retailer can ask for a licence to serve alcoholic beverages in his shop, even spirits like whiskey and vodka.

Cafés and bars will be allowed to sell mildly alcoholic beverages (off premise) and liquor stores may serve alcohol (on premise) and are allowed to function as shop, post office or ticket shop.

The current Licensing and Catering Act has rules on the floor area, height and the presence of toilets. All these rules will be expired, causing many tiny bars, as you see them for example, in some developing countries.

Wim van Dalen, director of STAP: "The proposal of Ziengs denies the interests of public health, the effect will be that alcohol become more accessible for young and old, it will be more an everyday product. The bill will inevitably lead to a dramatic increase in alcohol problems in the Netherlands. "

Source: (in English) and (in Dutch) 

A majority in the Dutch Parliament last week four motions regarding alcohol policy.

The motions request the government:

  • to provide financial support for IkPas, a campaign to abstain for 30 or 40 days, and for the marketing monitoring project conducted by The Netherlands Institute for Alcohol Policy STAP;
  • to examine which EU countries have adapted far-reaching measures concerning alcohol advertising (e.g. in the field of sport sponsoring);
  • to study the effectiveness of the obligatory course on responsible drinking for licence candidates (and their staff);
  • to send a letter to all municipalities that they should no allow that some entrepreneurs of non-food stores and other non-licensed retailers, sell and serve alcoholic beverages in violation of the Alcohol Licensing and Catering Act.
Recent research by Witteman et al (2015) has indicated that the presence of alcohol cues such as the portrayal of the drug and drinking behaviour induced physiological cue reactivity and craving in alcohol dependence through a conditioned appetitive response. The study "Cue reactivity and its relation to craving and relapse in alcohol dependence: a combined laboratory and field study" by Jurriaan Witteman, Hans Post, Mika Tarvainen, Avalon de Bruijn, Elizabeth De Sousa Fernandes Perna, Johannes G. Ramaekers & Reinout W. Wiers investigated the nature of physiological cue reactivity and craving in response to alcohol cues among alcohol-dependent patients (N = 80) who were enrolled in detoxification treatment. Further, the predictive value with regard to future drinking of both the magnitude of the physiological and craving response to alcohol cues while in treatment and the degree of alcohol-cue exposure in patients’ natural environment was assessed. Physiological reactivity and craving in response to experimental exposure to alcohol and soft drink advertisements were measured during detoxification treatment using heart rate variability and subjective rating of craving. Following discharge, patients monitored exposure to alcohol advertisements for five consecutive weeks with a diary and were followed up with an assessment of relapse at 5 weeks and 3 months post-discharge. The results indicated that the presence of alcohol cues such as the portrayal of the drug and drinking behaviour induced physiological cue reactivity and craving. Additionally, cue reactivity and craving were positively correlated, and cue reactivity was larger for patients with shorter histories of alcohol dependence. Further, patients reported a substantial daily exposure to alcohol cues. The magnitude of cue reactivity and the craving response to alcohol cues at baseline and degree of exposure to alcohol cues in patients’ natural environment did not predict relapse. It is concluded that the presence of alcohol cues such as portrayal of alcoholic beverages and drinking behaviour induces cue reactivity and craving in alcohol dependence through a conditioned appetitive response. The article has been published in the following journal: Psychopharmacology (Berl), 2015, 232(20): 3685–3696. The article can be downloaded (full text) via this link.
New scientific research shows that the link between exposure of teens to alcohol consumption in movies and binge drinking is strong. This conclusion comes from a survey questioning 16.551 adolescents in Germany, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Scotland. The study also shows that the relationship between alcohol use in movies and adolescent binge drinking is the same in all six countries.   ‘The striking thing to me is how consistent the results were across countries and cultures,’ study co-author Dr. James Sargent, a professor of pediatrics and community and family medicine at Dartmouth Medical School, told HealthDay. “Whatever you want your alcohol to do for you — make you feel rich, funny, sophisticated — you can see that in the movies. That shapes how kids see alcohol and their decisions whether to binge drink.” The study was conducted in collaboration by the University of Oregon, the University of Hawaii Cancer Centre, Dartmouth Medical School, the Norris Cotton Cancer Centre and St. Cathrine University. The goal of the study was to investigate whether the association between exposure to images of alcohol use in movies and binge drinking among adolescents is independent of cultural context. The respondents came from 114 public schools, the average age of these pupils was 13.4. Another interesting conclusion is that over a quarter (27%) of the respondents had consumed five drinks on at least one occasion in their life. The study is freely available online in the journal Pediatrics Source: 03/05/12
In February 2011 the Dutch Directorate for the Media ruled that the STER (the sales organization for advertising on radio and tv of the public service broadcaster) had violated the new Dutch Media Law. The STER received a financial penalty of 35.000 euro for broadcasting alcohol commercials for Heineken and Bavaria beer before 21.00h on television in 2010. The complaints were filed by the  Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP) that is engaged in monitoring the alcohol marketing in The Netherlands. Since the first of January 2010 a legal time ban on alcohol advertising came into force in The Netherlands. Between 6.00h and 21.00h alcohol commercials are not allowed to be broadcasted anymore on radio and television. Sponsoring of programs by alcohol advertisers is still allowed. Heineken had advertised several times for the Heineken Champions League before 21.00h and Bavaria broadcasted a commercial for its alcohol free beer Bavaria 0.0%. Since the Bavaria 0.0% commercial also prominently portrayed the alcoholic Bavaria beer, the Dutch Advertising Code Committee (self-regulatory body on advertising) as well as the Directorate for the Media (rules on legislation) adjudicated that this commercial could be considered as alcohol advertising. Since the broadcaster is responsible according to the Media Law, the brewers cannot be financially punished for having broadcasted their alcohol commercials within the watershed.
While policy makers in Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand debate whether alcohol advertising and sponsorship should be banned from sport, new research provides evidence that alcohol industry sponsorship is associated with more hazardous drinking in sportspeople compared to non-alcohol sponsorship. Health scientists from Monash University, the University of Manchester, Deakin University and University of Western Sydney, asked Australian sportspeople about their drinking behaviours, sport participation, and what sorts of sport sponsorship they currently receive. After accounting for other influences receipt of alcohol industry sponsorship in various forms was associated with significantly higher levels of drinking. Receipt of similar forms of sponsorship from non-alcohol industries such as, building firms, food or clothing companies was not related to higher drinking levels. Of the 30 per cent of sportspeople reporting receiving alcohol industry sponsorship, 68 per cent met World Health Organisation criteria for classification as hazardous drinkers. The research, published online in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, is the first to compare alcohol industry sponsorship to non-alcohol industry sponsorship. Read more at: E! Science News
bud-family The American Alcohol Industry Watchdog, the Marin Institute recently reported of a banner campaign from Anheuser-Busch InBev for Budweiser “Family Packs”.  The Marin Institute was tipped by a youth group in Roseburg, Oregon who sent photo’s of the banners that where seen around town. According to the Marin Institute one of the banners was placed next to an elementary school. The banners promote two products, namely the “Busch Family 30 Pack” of Busch Light beer for $14.99 and the $16.79 “Bud Family 24 Pack Cube.” Umpqua Partners for a Drug Free Future, the organization which spotted the ads, was quick to start an online petition asking Anheuser Busch InBev to take down all "Family Pack" advertising. On the 13th of January Patti LaFreniere, Executive Director of Umpqua Partners states that Anheuser/Busch beer distributor, Western Beverage had informed her that the two banners advertising Bud and Busch Family packs were removed, and that all local ads would be removed on the same day. The Marin Institute offered appreciation to Western Beverage for quickly responding to the petition campaign. The institute also calls upon the Anheuser-Busch InBev corporation to stop packaging and promoting Budweiser and Busch Family Packs. Source: the Marin Institute, 11/16/10