Int'l alcohol policy symposium discusses harms of alcohol

The symposium is expected to host 1,200 health experts representing 53 countries over Friday and Saturday.

Int'l alcohol policy symposium discusses harms of alcohol

World Bulletin/News Desk

The harm that alcohol consumption causes to individuals, families and society as a whole and the possible policies that could be adopted by Turkey and other countries are being discussed at a global two-day symposium that started in İstanbul on Friday.

The inauguration ceremony of the event, titled the “Global Alcohol Policy Symposium,” was held at the Haliç Congress Center on Friday. The symposium was organized by the Green Crescent Society (Yeşilay) in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister, Parliament and the Ministry of Health and is co-sponsored by the World Health Association (WHO).

The symposium is expected to host 1,200 health experts representing 53 countries over Friday and Saturday.

Giving the opening speech of ceremony, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has never intervened in what people wear, do, eat or drink at all since it came to power.  He stressed that the government, however, has the responsibility to protect its young citizens from the destructive effects of alcohol consumption as Article 58 of the Constitution says the state shall take the necessary measures to protect young people from addiction to alcohol and drugs, gambling and similar weaknesses.

The prime minister stated that they are examining the alcohol control programs of developed countries and also working with nongovernmental organizations to determine effective steps to decrease the alcohol abuse in those countries.

Also speaking at the symposium, Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu stated that raising public awareness with regard to the harm alcohol consumption can do is important, adding that in addition to government initiatives, nongovernmental organizations should also do their part.

Highlighting the negative effects of alcohol on young people, Müezzinoğlu stated the age that most people start drinking in Turkey is alarming, adding: “The age people start to drink has been decreasing over the last few years in Turkey. The age young people have started drinking at has decreased to 13. Starting to drink alcohol at an early age causes irreparable damages to still-developing organs. Young people who start drinking at an early age have more tendencies to violence, crimes, drug use, mental health problems and anti-social behavior in their later years. Alcohol producers intentionally target young people. We should prevent this and we should carry out programs to raise the awareness of the young population about the serious harm of drinking alcohol,” he said.

“Although alcohol consumption rates are much lower compared to European countries and the US, people should not undermine the fact that more people are drinking younger. Turkey is at great risk in this regard and should adopt effective policies to prevent alcohol use despite its low consumption rates,” he continued.

Professor Haydar Sur from İstanbul University, a speaker during the first session, stated that alcohol is a potentially addictive psychoactive substance; it is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and its effects on brain function are felt very quickly.

Stating that alcohol is one of the major causes of health conditions such as obesity, cirrhosis and cancer and 300,000 young people between 15 and 29 die from alcohol-related diseases around the world each year, Sur further noted that apart from health problems, alcohol also causes problems within a family and the whole of society.

“Poor people generally spend all their money on alcohol soon after they receive their salaries. Because they spend all of their money, they cannot meet the needs of their family members and domestic violence becomes common in those families.”

Last Mod: 27 Nisan 2013, 10:56
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