Government targets alcohol abuse alongside obesity and smoking

A government drive aimed at lowering the number of people with a chronic disease will include measures to combat alcohol abuse, junior health minister Paul Blokhuis told parliament in a letter on Tuesday.

After wide-ranging consultations, Blokhuis has decided the Nationaal Preventieakkoord should target alcohol abuse alongside smoking and obesity. All three, he says, are highly detrimental to health, cause premature deaths and are associated with problems such as poverty and debt.

The programme is also aimed at narrowing the health gap between the highly skilled and lower skilled people on low incomes. People on low incomes have a far greater incidence of behaviour-related illnesses than higher earners.

‘I am not a teetotaller and I like a beer just as much as the next person. But I am convinced we are strongly underestimating the risks of problematic alcohol use,’ Blokhuis said.

‘What constitutes problematic alcohol use is different for each person but the advice from the Health Council is clear: don’t drink at all or have more than one drink a day. And if you want to stay healthy don’t tot up all those drinks and have them all at the weekend.’

The campaign proposals include targeting specific groups, higher alcohol prices, fewer outlets, a limit on advertising and promoting awareness of the role alcohol plays in the domains of culture, sports, care and education.