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Belgium launches first-ever national plan to curb alcohol consumption

Belgium launches first-ever national plan to curb alcohol consumption
75 measures to be implemented to combat excessive, harmful consumption, says health minister

By Rabia Ali

ISTANBUL (AA) - Belgium has launched a national plan for the first time to control the excessive and harmful consumption of alcohol, its federal health minister announced Friday.

An “Inter-federal” alcohol plan with 75 measures was announced which includes limitations on advertising, prohibition of the sale of alcohol on motorways and the establishment of a care program for young people.

“Alcohol consumption affects healthcare, but also justice, finance, hospitality, youth, police and other sectors. Only by working together, can we really tackle the problem of harmful alcohol consumption,” Frank Vadenbroucke said in a statement.

The idea of ​​a federal alcohol plan arose in 2008 and after 15 years, the federal and regional ministers finally reached an agreement on a plan against harmful alcohol consumption, it said.

The initiative based on recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Belgium's Superior Health Council, includes the prohibition of alcohol advertisements on television and radio and during children’s programs. Advertising would also be prohibited in newspapers and publications for minors.

In every alcohol advertisement, a health message based on scientific evidence would be displayed. Meanwhile, free alcohol as part of promotional deals would be prohibited.

A ban on alcohol in shops and gas stations along motorways would be imposed between 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. It is estimated that alcohol is involved in a quarter of all road deaths in Europe, making it one of the biggest killers on the road, said the statement.

Alcoholic drinks would be banned in vending machines. Free water would be offered in places where alcohol is sold.

The government would establish an alcohol care program for young adults. It would also work with professionals to provide care to people who require urgent medical services due to alcohol intoxication and care will be extended after their release from hospitals.

"This is the first time in our country that all ministers involved have approved a common approach to reduce the harmful use of alcohol in Belgium. This plan was absolutely necessary given the enormous social impact of alcohol, especially on health," said Vadenbroucke.

-Alcohol-related accidents on the rise

In the first nine months of 2022, a total of 3,138 accidents related to alcohol consumption were reported in Belgium, according to The Brussels Times. Since 2016, the figure is the highest number of accidents from alcohol, said the Vias Road Safety Institute.

According to the Statista Research Department, registered cases of alcohol abuse in Belgium amounted to 16,200 offenses in 2021.

Drink-driving remains relatively high in Belgium, placing the country in the poor performer group, said a report by the European Transport Safety Council. "Many factors, such as the low probability of getting caught and the cultural acceptability of drink-driving, can partly explain why this is a common phenomenon on Belgian roads," it said.

According to the report, a survey in 2019 showed that in Europe, around 13.1% reported having driven at least once in the past 30 days with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) level above the legal limit. In Belgium, the prevalence was highest, “with a proportion that was almost twice as high as the European average, 24.2%'.

source: News Feed
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