Sunday, June 25, 2006

Alcohol in Europe.

The Internationa Herald Tribune reports some interesting figures (published by the European Commission) on alcohol consumption. The maint point is that the EU is "the part of the world with the highest proportion of drinkers and the highest level of alcohol consumption,".

European surveys show that
  • among 15-year-old boys and girls nearly 70 % have been drunk at least twice in the past year; 89 % of 16-year-olds had been inebriated.
  • although overall alcohol consumption in Europe has dropped since the mid-1970s, rates are rising quickly in a number of categories, such as binge drinking among young people, which is particularly high in Britain, Bulgaria and Sweden, as well as Denmark.
  • the average adult in the EU consumes 11 liters, or 3 gallons, of alcohol a year, more than 2.5 times the world average and far above the next highest region, the Americas, where the figure is just under 2 gallons. Alcohol use in Asia is far lower, but growing quickly.
Another interesting point is that there are major differences within Europe - alcohol use is decreasing in France and Italy while it has increased in many central and northern countries. The article also points out the cultural difference between northern and southern countries.

In any case, drinking alcohol is definitely more accpted in Europe than in the US:
In the EU, 90% of 15- and 16-year-old students have drunk alcohol at some point in their lives, a rate far higher than in the United States.
One of the reasons for the decrease in France - not mentioned in the article - is the crackdown on driving under the influence. Even in France, a country wherer the alcohol lobby is huge, things are changing.
In 2004, the European Court upheld a French law requiring television broadcasters to "pan away" from liquor advertisements on display at sporting events. Alcohol producers argued that the law was an illegal trade barrier; the court ruled that it was a matter of public health


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