7th European Alcohol Policy Conference report

The most important event - the 7th European Alcohol Policy Conference - was held on 22nd and 23rd of November in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The event was hosted by Slovenian Ministry of Health and co-organized by Eurocare. Leading to this main event we also participated in two side events: RARHA WP6 and APN symposium on 21st of November.

In addition, APYN also organized an event of its own in order to prepare our youth delegates for the official conference, which was held on 20th of November.

At APYN’s pre-event youth delegates first got to know each other and tested their already existing knowledge on alcohol topic. Later we had a comprehensive presentation on alcohol policy which was followed by the discussion about local realities in countries from which youth delegates come from.

The next day we attended both satellite events of the conference. First one was hosted by RARHA - Reducing Alcohol Related Harm Association, where they presented their newest toolkit for evidence-based good practices with the title Public awareness, school-based and early interventions to reduce alcohol related harm. Afterwards followed the Alcohol Policy Network’s symposium - a mixture of different presentations with main focus on the role of the alcohol industry in policy making, alcohol and young people and updates from several countries.

The following day the main event started - the 7th European Alcohol Policy Conference, with the title Alcohol Policy for Sustainable Development. Almost 400 participants from all EU countries, Russia, the United States, as well as countries from Asia and Africa came together. There were many representatives from several health ministries present, but the majority of participants came from civil society.

At the seventh conference in a row we had an opportunity to look back on what has changed from the first conference and could notice with pleasure that the interest in the topic of alcohol is becoming bigger and broader, but as soon as it comes down to the implementation of the smallest alcohol policy measures in European countries, we face a situation where the alcohol industry is still dominating the discussion and is still setting the agenda - and that needs to change!

The sub-themes of this year’s conference were alcohol inequalities and innovative approaches. The sessions focused on the current burden of alcohol in Europe and on the multiple health and social problems that it creates. Much has also been said about cost-effective alcohol policies and what they can contribute to reducing inequalities in health and to sustainable development of our societies.

In the conclusion of the conference it was pointed out there is a need for action across Europe in order to prevent alcohol-related harm. The best way to do that is to strengthen the legislation at EU level and the appeal suggested two concrete actions, which need a push in all countries to ensure support: the AVMSD changes and labelling of alcoholic beverages. The conference concluded with invitations to two global events next year - the Global Alcohol Conference, which will be hosted in Turkey and to the Global Alcohol Policy Conference, which will be hosted in Australia.

The 7th EAPC was co-sponsored by the World Health Organization by funding from the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation and by Norway Grants. It was supported by the National Institute of Public Health of Slovenia and the Public Transportation of Ljubljana.