Edinburgh hosts European alcohol policy conference

On 20–21 November 2018, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) hosted the 8th European Alcohol Policy Conference (EAPC). The conference was attended by a variety of stakeholders in the field of alcohol policy from around Europe, including researchers, government officials, civil servants WHO representatives, recovery community groups, and people with lived experience. The conference not only addressed the key issues in the field of alcohol but also shared success stories of approaches that work.

The six themes of the conference were youth, justice, recovery, health, gender, and economics. There was a great deal of discussion between presenters and audience members during the two days and particularly important was the added value of the experiences shared by people in recovery. A short film made for the purpose of the conference made the very point that only by listening to people in recovery can we support people to access recovery services and sustaining recovery.

One key celebration of the conference was the Alcohol Policy Award, which was given to Estonia due to their progress in new alcohol control measures. In recent years, political support has led to implementing policies that address the WHO ‘best buys’, including tax increases, regulations of alcohol marketing, and restricting the availability to alcohol in shops. You can read more about the award here.

© SHAAP/Malcolm Cochrane Photography

Another key feature of the conference was the launch of the new Alcohol Framework, which was announced by the Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing Joe Fitzpatrick. The Framework sets out 20 actions to reduce consumption, change population attitudes and encourage positive choices, and supporting families and communities.

Whilst having a European Perspective, the Scottish contribution to the conference was prominent. Of note was that the Alcohol Policy Team at the Scottish Government was awarded recognition for their “outstanding contribution to NCD prevention and control”, by WHO on behalf of the UN Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (UNIATF). Furthermore, PhD student Annie Taylor from Edinburgh Napier University won prize for best poster at the 8EAPC for her poster on alcohol and pregnancy.

A report of the conference along with videos will be made available on SHAAP’s website in due course.

© SHAAP/Malcolm Cochrane Photography

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