ECDA calls for stronger measures to counteract increasing adolescent use of alcohol and tobacco across Europe

In the aftermath of the April 2024 WHO/Europe report highlighting the increased rates of tobacco and alcohol use amongst minors, ECDA underscores the heightened risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) associated with this consumption and calls on EU policymakers to pursue a robust plan of action to address this challenge.

WHO/Europe’s data suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic may be responsible for recent increases in excessive alcohol consumption and use of e-cigarettes among European, Central Asian, and Canadian adolescents ages 15 and up. The 2024 report states that 20% of surveyed 15-year-olds have experienced significant drunkenness and that around one-third have used e-cigarettes in their lifetime. The data further demonstrates that the gender gap in substance use has virtually disappeared, suggesting an overall increased rate of use among adolescent girls.

In light of these statistics, ECDA endorses WHO/Europe’s recommendation to ban alcohol advertisements on mainstream and social media and applauds WHO/Europe’s positive stance on implementing stronger taxation policies, such as minimum pricing and excise taxes, to combat rising alcohol use among youth. On the issue of tobacco use, ECDA supports the report’s recommendation to strengthen the existing enforcement mechanisms of current anti-tobacco laws and believes that addressing the threat posed by emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes is vital to promoting NCD-free societies.

ECDA stands with WHO/Europe in its efforts to draw attention to the detrimental effects of alcohol and tobacco and the need to construct a more extensive regulatory framework to combat this threat. Protecting and promoting adolescent health remains a critical component of any NCD prevention strategy, and ECDA strongly encourages policymakers to implement WHO/Europe’s proposed policies on this matter.