Alcohol consumption in the EU has increased by 6% since 2003, the latest Eurobarometer survey reveals. Men drink more than women while those who spent the longest in education drink more than those who spent less time.
Europeans have the highest alcohol consumption per head in the world. Alcohol is responsible for nearly one in†ten of all illnesses and premature deaths on the continent.
The survey which looked at alcohol consumption between 2003 and 2006 and shows clear differences with regards to gender and socio-economic status. More men than women said they drank alcohol in 2006 (84% against 68%) and respondents who had studied to an advanced educational level claimed to have consumed alcohol more often than other groups.
The survey also polled EU citizens' views on warnings on alcohol bottles and adverts. Some 77% of respondents agreed with putting warnings on alcohol bottles and adverts to warn pregnant women and drivers of the dangers of alcohol.
The price of alcohol appeared to have only a marginal effect on adults' drinking habits - only young respondents said they would buy less alcohol if prices increased considerably.
Some 52% of respondents think that†protecting individuals from alcohol-related harm is the responsibility of individuals themselves whereas 44% argue this is the role of public authorities. Responses to this question tended to reflect whether or not the respondant themselves drank. Those who consumed alcohol tended to emphasise the responsibility of individuals, whereas those who did not drink looked to the public authorities.
In October 2006, the Commission adopted a Communication setting out five priorities to fight alcohol abuse:
- protection of young people and children;
- reduction of alcohol-related road accidents;
- reduction of the negative impact on the economy;
- raising awareness of the health-impacts of alcohol abuse, and;
- collection and dissemination of reliable data
‘Although the results of the survey show that there is still much work to be done, there is also a considerable public support for tackling drink-driving and underage drinking, which bodes well for the Commission's strategy,' said Andrew McNei of the the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare), an alliance of NGOs working on the prevention and reduction of alcohol-related harm in Europe. Eurocare called for the Eurobarometer survey to be regularly repeated in order to measure the success of the EU strategy.