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19 Jul, 2015

Two Thai speakers slotted for Global Alcohol Policy Conference in Edinburgh

Two Thais are to be among the top speakers at the Global Alcohol Policy Conference to be held in Edinburgh, Scotland from 7-9 October 2015. To be co-hosted by the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA) and Alcohol Focus Scotland, the conference will focus on the theme “Momentum For Change: Research And Advocacy Reducing Alcohol Harm.”

The conference is being positioned as “a unique opportunity for researchers, NGOs, policymakers, and health professionals to come together to share knowledge and inspire each other to advocate for the policies that will work to reduce the significant harm that alcohol causes in our countries.”

The conference is of immense relevance to the travel & tourism industry, a major consumer of alcohol. In addition to high levels of alcoholism amongst industry employees and executives, alcohol is a leading cause of accidents and deaths at tourist spots worldwide. The conference should also be of interest to health & wellness practitioners and the growing numbers of Sharia-compliant properties, which do not serve alcohol in their premises, in line with Islamic principles.

Dr Thaksaphon (Mek) Thamarangsi, Director, Health Promotion Policy Research Center (HPR) and Manager, Thai NCD Network, International Health Policy Program (IHPP), will be speaking in the session on “Building Support for Protecting Children’s Right to Grow Up Free from Alcohol Marketing”. The second speaker from Thailand Mr Teera Watcharapranee, Manager, Stop Drink Network, will be focussing on “Advocacy on marketing and mobilizing youth voice.”

In her welcoming remarks, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland says, “Alcohol misuse is a problem that affects people from all walks of life and we should be proud that Scotland’s alcohol strategy has been recognised around the globe. We have introduced more than 40 measures to address alcohol misuse, including reducing consumption, supporting families and communities and improving treatment and support services.

“For example, we know that alcohol has become around 60 per cent more affordable since the 1980s and it is no coincidence that as affordability has increased, alcohol-related harms have risen. It’s exactly why we passionately believe in the need to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol and further reduce levels of misuse.”

Derek Rutherford, Chair of the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance, says the GAPA “was born out of the need to build a global movement to reduce alcohol-related harm through the promotion of evidence based alcohol policies free from the influence of commercial interests. The endorsement in 2010 of the World Health Assembly’s global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol gave further impetus to the need for such a movement.

“The need to advance the global strategy is greater than ever. Alcohol use, after high blood pressure and smoking, is ranked third as the leading cause of global death and disability.

“If non-communicable diseases are to be successfully addressed then the consumption of alcohol must be reduced. This can only be achieved by creating and sustaining a strong political will to reduce the burden of disease at global, national and community level.”

Mr Rutherford thanked Alcohol Focus Scotland for the invitation to host the 2015 conference. “It provides the opportunity to acknowledge their advocacy strategies and to share in the experience of advocates in other regions and countries of the world. Importantly, we can pay tribute to the Scottish Government for the political courage it has shown to implement appropriate policy in the face of stiff opposition by the drinks industry.

“Let us take the opportunity provided by GAPC 2015 to strengthen collaboration, networking and mobilisation of civil society, academia and policy makers to advance and sustain a much-needed global movement.”

Dr Mac Armstrong CB, Chair, Alcohol Focus Scotland, said, “Across the world, alcohol causes so much damage to people’s health, to the lives of their families, and to the communities we live in. Harmful use of alcohol causes around 3.3 million deaths every year (5.9% of all deaths) and 5.1% of the global disease burden.

“Scotland has been working hard to reduce the significant harm that alcohol causes in our country. The Scottish Government’s plans to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol will increase the price of the cheapest, strongest drinks. Unfortunately, the implementation of this innovative policy has been delayed due to a legal challenge from the alcohol industry. This action provides yet more evidence of the alcohol industry’s role in seeking to prevent the implementation of alcohol policies that are going to be effective in reducing alcohol consumption and harm.”

Dr Armstrong added, “Alcohol Focus Scotland’s mission is to play a leading role in creating a world where alcohol is no longer a major cause of harm. I hope that GAPC 2015 can be the catalyst for local, national and global action to make this a reality.”

Further info: http://www.gapc2015.com/