Public Health France and the National Institute of Cancer were mandated on 21 June 2016 by the Interministerial Mission against Drugs and Addictive Behaviour and the Directorate General of Health to make proposals for ‘the renewal of public discourse on alcohol’. A group of multidisciplinary experts was established to develop recommendations and their conclusions were published on 5 May.
The expert group proposes that public authorities should inform the public about the health risks associated with alcohol consumption and recommend that alcohol consumers drink no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 2 standard drinks per day for men and women. The group has chosen drinking guidelines that represent an absolute lifetime risk of alcohol related mortality for the French population between 1% and 1 per 1000. They consider that it is important that these guidelines are widely known and accompanied by broad social marketing strategies and support from health professionals. The presence of a health risk even for low and moderate consumption means that the current health warning: alcohol abuse is dangerous for health is replaced by a message that any drinking of alcohol is a risk for health.
In terms of consumer information, the group stressed the importance of warnings being included on alcoholic beverage packaging i.e. the pregnant woman pictogram, the number of standard glasses at 10g and the number of calories per glass, should be mandatory. Moreover, the group of experts proposes that the advice on alcohol should be better understood and above all consistent across the various ministries and institutions. According to the experts, the public discourse must also be consistent with regulation, in particular, making it unacceptable to incite minors to drink. They argue that taxation on alcohol is currently misunderstood by the public and recommend that the taxation of alcohol should be proportional to the quantity of alcohol responsible for health damage and not according to the different products.