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4th National Alcohol Policy Conference in Ljubljana

The conference is took place in Ljubljana on 26th November 2018. Policy makers, scholars, practitioners and others interested in the topic of alcohol policies disscused alcohol related issues. National Institute for Public Health summarized main points outlined at the conference.  

IN SLOVENIA ALCOHOL IS REMAINING A SERIOUS PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM SO MONITORING AND QUALITATIVE APPROACH IS ESSENTIAL 
Regarding alcohol use and alcohol-related harm Slovenia is above the European average. We have introduced a well-developed system for monitoring alcohol related issues (e.g. data portal, population research, monitoring of the consequences of alcohol use, regular professional publications and publications for policy makers), which should be further upgraded with quality data.  We also need to ensure regular reporting on research results. The participants of the conference stressed out that the consumption of alcohol should be monitored along with other psychoactive substances, as the multiuse of the substances is increasing. 

ALCOHOL IS OFTEN RELATED WITH VIOLENCE BUT MANY TIMES THE CORRELATION REMAINS UNRECOGNIZED
Also in addressing violence, it is crucial that we introduce measures that will effectively reduce the use of alcohol in Slovenia. Participants and lecturers emphasized that we should take more efforts by identifying violence, training professionals, and addressing violence in the priority tasks of health and social care. For more effective prevention of violence, investment in interdisciplinary approach of different professions and sectors will be crucial.

Participants also suggested that social work centres should reintroduce interdisciplinary approach (cooperation of social care, health care, NGOs,...) to work on alcohol issues, as this has proved to be effective in the past.

ALL MOST EFFECTIVE MEASURES NOT YET IN PLACE IN SLOVENIA
The World Health Organization (WHO) report shows that Slovenia has been successful in the leadership and monitoring of alcohol, reducing drink-driving and in health services’ response. We are less successful in the areas of reducing the affordability of alcohol and pricing policies, reducing the consequences of informally produced alcohol, and in banning marketing and advertising of alcohol. In addition to restrictive measures, the participants also proposed investments in preventive and promotional programs and in creating environments that will provide healthy choices.

IN SLOVENIA SOME MUNICIPALITIES HAVE INTRODUCED BAN ON DRINKING IN PUBLIC AREAS
Participants supported the adoption of a measure prohibiting alcohol consumption in public areas at national level, since in those local communities that have already introduced such measures, violence after the adoption of the ban has decreased.

RETURNING ALCOHOL SALE ON SPORT EVENTS IS CONNECTED WITH DIFFICULTIES IN TACKLING THE VIOLENCE
Participants were of the opinion that the adoption of measures allowing alcohol at sport events represents a step backwards in the development of alcohol policy in Slovenia, and invite the Slovenian political public and organizers of sport events to rethink and consider the public health aspect.

FOR ADVANCED ALCOHOL POLICY THE STRONG POLITICAL SUPPORT ON THE LOCAL AND NATIONAL LEVEL IS CRUCIAL

In adopting most effective measures, a higher level of political will and support will be needed in Slovenia. In order to achieve better results in the future, the active participation of political decision makers from different ministries and sectors will be crucial. A political dialogue will be needed, where the different sectors will be given the opportunity to unify positions and find solutions that will include health in all policies approach and put the health and well-being of people at the forefront. 

ADVANCED MEASURES ARE NEEDED TO LIMIT DIGITAL MARKETING OF ALCOHOL
Slovenia needs measures in the area of limiting or banning the marketing and advertising of alcoholic beverages, among which are: advanced legislative measures, optimization of the implementation of existing legislation, assessment of digital marketing practices including monitoring of alcohol industry tactics, development of control mechanisms for limitation of digital marketing, raising public awareness and improvement of digital media literacy. Particular attention should be paid to problematic forms of digital marketing (for example, vlogging, blogging, social network accounts - Facebook, Instagram,...) which include hidden marketing messages. For introducing effective measures to limit digital marketing of alcohol international cooperation and commitments will be crucial.

RESEARCHES SHOWS THAT THE BAN ON SELLING ALCOHOL TO INTOXICATED PERSONS AND TO MINORS IS NOT EFFECTIVELY IMPLEMENTED
Responsible selling and serving of alcohol requires the active participation of hospitality sector and strong raising awareness activities.  Server training provided for hospitality sector that gives the staff skills and knowledge about alcohol harm and safe-serving practices need to be provided on a regular basis. Introduction of a system of licensing for the sale of alcohol with server training required by national licensing system and revoking the licence as a penalty for infringement would represent an effective solution when introducing advanced comprehensive alcohol policy.

MOBILIZING COMMUNITY AND COOPERATION OF ALL STAKEHOLDERS ARE CRUCIAL
The participants welcomed the MOSA market, where different raising awareness programmes and activities of NGOs in the field of the prevention of harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption co-financed by the Ministry of Health were presented. In the future, in order to achieve better results it is necessary to invest in the networking of all stakeholders in this field and in exchanging experiences and know-how to achieve synergistic effects. 

INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENTS, COOPERATION AND GOOD PRACTICE EXCHANGE IS VERY IMPORTANT
Slovenia has been actively involved in international cooperation in the field of alcohol policy, which is reflected on the WHO and EU level, in organizing of international events, as well as in the achievement of outstanding results and recognitions to the projects of Slovenian NGOs. Slovenia has organized several important international events such as the 7th European Alcohol Policy Conference in 2016.  In September 2018 Slovenia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Estonia, Lithuania, the Russian Federation together with the World Health Organization and support of many non-governmental organizations have organized a side event on “Alcohol, NCDs and sustainable development: Where do we stand and where do we go?” at the Third UN High-level Meeting on NCDs.

 

 

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