All people have a right to live healthy and happy lives free of diseases and with high quality of life. Cancer is a disease which hampers this fundamental human right. In 2020, 2.7 million people in the European Union were diagnosed with cancer, and another 1.3 million people lost their lives to it, including over 2,000 young people. About 40% of these cancers can be prevented through effective cancer strategies such as prevention of risk factors, including alcohol.
Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is a political commitment to substantially reduce the burden of cancer. It is structured around four key action areas with 10 flagship initiatives and multiple supporting actions. The four key areas are: prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, as well as improving quality of life of cancer patients and survivors.
Prevention in general and alcohol policy solutions in particular are central elements in the plan. Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan contains the target of – at least – a 10% reduction in per capita alcohol use by 2025, as countries had already agreed in 2015 when adopting the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals.
The Swedish government welcomed the new Cancer plan in the EU.
Specifically the government positively views,
- the division of powers between the EU and the Member States regarding social, health and medical care issues and that the powers of the Member States are fully respected;
- the focus on preventive work and the person centering in the plan;
- the public health-based and restrictive tobacco policy in the EU. Sweden has joined the countries that want to take the lead in tobacco control;
- the proposal regarding addressing alcohol as a cancer risk and that the EU can jointly take steps towards more public health-based alcohol regulation at EU level;
- the revised Air Quality Directive;
- measures to reduce exposure to dangerous substances; and
- a review of the Carcinogens and Mutagenic Directive.
The Swedish government finds it positive that the EU is now taking a greater stance on health data issues, precision medicine and the transition to a data-driven society. This is a priority for Sweden. However, the Swedish government wishes for more clarifications regarding the data strategy. Specifically, on links to the secure handling of health data and the establishment of a European common data area for health.
Movendi International: Prioritizing alcohol as a cancer risk
Movendi International engaged in advocacy work to support the European Commission in the development of the Cancer Plan. Movendi members participated in the EU consultation on the Cancer Plan between February and March 2020.
Towards the European Commission Movendi International advocated for a stronger focus on alcohol taxation, cross-border alcohol trade issues, the need to protect (young) people from alcohol promotions and the urgency of improving recognition of the link between alcohol and cancer.
We welcome Europe’s Beating Cancer Day and commend the European Commission for heeding the concerns, input and needs of our members and other European citizens. The new Cancer Plan is a good example of the public interest being prioritized before the alcohol industry’s profits,” says Kristina Sperkova, International President, Movendi International.
The EU’s commitment to support member states to reduce population-level consumption is an important sign that alcohol policy is finally becoming the priority it should be. Using the alcohol policy best buys holds significant potential to protect of people from alcohol industry pressure.
High-impact alcohol policy means cancer prevention and health promotion.”Kristina Sperkova, International President, Movendi International