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Statement delivered by Estonia on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries under item 5h and 5i at the WHO Regional Committee for Europe 67th session in Budapest


WHO Regional Committee for Europe 67th session

NB8 Statement


Agenda item 5(h)(i): Implementation of the European Action Plan to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol 2012–2020 (resolution EUR/RC61/R4)

Budapest, 14 September 2017


Madame chair,

This time we do not speak on behalf of the EU. I am speaking on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries [Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden] and Slovenia align themselves with this statement.


Since the adoption of the WHO global strategy to reduce harmful use of alcohol and the European action plan for its implementation, total alcohol consumption in the region has decreased continuously, or remained stable. Nevertheless, Europe is still the region with the highest consumption in the world, which contributes significantly to the mortality from NCDs.

Our results so far confirm that evidence-based, sustainable and systematic policy approaches work. It is a message we need to continue communicating, because as consumption falls, the more difficult it is to advocate for these systematic measures.

Globalisation is another tendency we cannot overlook. Countries are today realising the impact of a borderless world, which affect the preventive measures concerning alcohol-related harm. National measures adopted can be diluted by cross-border shopping. To address this and other important cross-border issues, including labelling and marketing in new media, a discussion among the EU countries on alcohol policy and possible future steps will take place during the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Addressing cross-border purchases, marketing and labelling is relevant for all European Region’s Member States. Legal restrictions on advertising exist in 49 Member States. Yet, the attempts to curb young people’s exposure to alcohol advertising are challenged by marketing in new media. An additional challenge is that different requirements concerning e.g. labelling in different countries collide with principles and regulations to ensure free trade.

We need continued cooperation and coordination to overcome these challenges. The case of tobacco demonstrates that similar results are potentially achievable as regards alcohol. Therefore, we encourage all member states of the WHO European Region to continue their work to tackle the harmful use of alcohol with the support of the Regional Office. 

We would like to express our special thanks to Dr Gauden Galea and his team for the work in compiling an excellent document – “Alcohol labelling - A discussion document on policy options” in a very limited timeframe. It provides an evidence based framework for all member states to relay on in addressing harmful use of alcohol.

Finally, although the modelling by the Regional Office shows that all countries in our region will achieve the 30 percent reduction of mortality in NCDs by 2020, we can do better. Putting in place sustainable alcohol policy measures has the potential to help us in achieving that.


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