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Volume 2 Published - 14:00 UTC    08:00 EST    25-February-2001      
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Number-One Killer Of Young Men In Europe

One in four deaths of European men in the group aged 15–29 years is related to alcohol. In parts of eastern Europe, the figure is as high as one in three. All in all, 55 000 young people in the WHO European Region died from causes related to alcohol use in 1999.

These shocking new data from the WHO Global Burden of Disease 2000 Study set the scene on Thursday, as health ministers, other high-ranking decision-makers and young people from the 51 countries in the European Region gathered in Stockholm for the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Young People and Alcohol. The Conference aims to agree on Region-wide action to reverse harmful trends related to changing patterns of alcohol consumption by young people and aggressive marketing by the drinks industry.

"Over the past 10–15 years, we have seen that the young have become an important target for marketing of alcoholic products. When large marketing resources are directed towards influencing youth behaviour, creating a balanced and healthy attitude to alcohol becomes increasingly difficult," stated Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, WHO Director-General, in her opening remarks. "Based on these concerns, I am calling for a concerted review by international experts of this issue of marketing and promotion of alcohol to young people."

WHO will host a meeting on the impact of global marketing and promotion of alcohol, in collaboration with the Government of Valencia, in Spain later this year. WHO will also establish a strategy advisory committee on alcohol to address this serious public health problem.

In his address to the delegates, Dr Marc Danzon, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said "I understand that progress is not easily made in this area. Alcohol is deeply embedded in the culture and social activities of many societies. Health policies must have popular support based on an understanding of their importance. To help countries gain this support, the Regional Office is launching a new European alcohol monitoring system. This will provide on-going information on consumption, harm, drinks marketing and country experience in protecting public health."

As part of the programme for the Swedish presidency of the European Union (EU), the Conference agenda includes a special working-group session on future EU action on alcohol.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Council of Europe, the European Forum of Medical Associations and WHO (EFMA) and the European Commission were all active partners with WHO in the organization of the Conference. Her Majesty the Queen of Sweden opened the event.

Vidyya readers interested in learning more about European alcohol policy may visit for more information.

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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