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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 November 2005, 13:38 GMT
Swedish ads urge EU alcohol curbs
By Lars Bevanger
BBC News, Oslo

Sweden is due to launch an advertising campaign to try to convince the EU that Scandinavia's restrictive alcohol policies produce health benefits.

Sweden's state-controlled alcohol retail system is at odds with EU free trade rules.

Sales are restricted by its alcohol retail monopoly - a system of shops with shorter opening hours and higher prices than in most other EU countries.

As a result, alcohol consumption in Sweden is relatively low.

EUROPE'S DRINKING PROBLEM
Alcoholic drinks in a nightclub
Highest alcohol consumption of the six global regions - twice as high as world average
600,000 Europeans died of alcohol-related causes in 2002 - 6.3% of all premature deaths in the region
Alcohol use accounted for 10.8% of disease burden
However, substantial differences across Europe, which displays both worst and best drinking patterns in world
Source: WHO Europe

Anyone buying alcohol in Sweden must be prepared to plan ahead and spend a lot of money.

Now, though, the alcohol retail monopoly says it is concerned about the drinking habits in the rest of the EU and launches their Europe-wide print and internet advertising campaign aiming straight at the top.

Appealing to the president of the EU, Jose Manuel Barroso, the campaign title reads: "Dear Mr Barroso, here's why you should seriously consider cutting down on drinking".

It then quotes figures from the World Health Organisation, showing alcohol-related problems in Europe now cost some $235bn (200bn euros) a year.

After alcohol import restrictions within the EU were removed, alcohol consumption has also increased in Sweden, the campaign argues.

The European Commission says the Swedish monopoly system is in violation of EU free trade rules.

Critics say the Swedish ad campaign is a pre-emptive strike against the commission, which is expected to act in some form against the Swedish system soon.




SEE ALSO:
Sweden pushes for ad ban
13 Feb 01 |  Europe


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