The 25 health ministers have agreed to work on common efforts to rein in abusive alcohol consumption across the EU. Binge drinking, significantly among the young, should get special attention. Drinking is already killing more than twice as many middle-aged men as in 1991, according to official figures released in Britain.
The Council agreed to demand the industry advertise responsibly. Labels warning pregnant women were among the good practices singled out for copying. France’s alcohol producers were said to have taken well to this measure. Less well accepted is Luxembourg’s high tax on high alcohol sweet mixed drinks which attract young consumers – to try to price them out of reach. The authorities said the alcohol problem needed to be faced with the same seriousness as tobacco. And no one should think the time bomb, as the experts are calling it, is restricted to boys and girls only in certain countries.
London reports that binge drinking in Britain put seven and a half thousand minors in hospital in 2005 – a fifth more than five years ago. But research shows the most alcohol being downed in the EU is in five of the former communist Member States.