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Belgium implements its first-ever alcohol plan

The Belgium government’s health ministers have approved an “interfederal alcohol plan” this week which includes 75 new measures.

The plan, which was announced by Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke yesterday, and was shared across local press, is the first interfederal plan on alcohol consumption in the country.

Revealing news of the plan, Vandenbroucke said: “I am pleased that this plan has received the approval of all my colleagues from the different governments.”

The new plan, which includes measures based on recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Superior Health Council, has a total of 75 actions focusing on advertising, availability and appropriate care.

One measure means that there is set to be stricter regulations for alcohol advertising involving a legal framework that prohibits alcohol advertising on radio and TV before and after programmes for minors. Additionally, the Federal Government also wants to work on regulations restricting internet and social media advertising in content aimed at minors.

The new measures also state that when alcohol advertising is permitted, each message should contain a health message, drawn up by the Federal Public Service (FPS).

Other restrictions involve putting an end to offering free alcoholic drinks within a promotional campaign alongside non-alcoholic products.

Additionally, spirits will no longer be available to 16-18 year-olds, although they will still be able to buy beer and wine aged 16-18. All other spirits, including fortified wines, can only be sold to people over 18 years of age.

Belgium is also imposing a ban on the sale of alcohol in shops along the motorway between 10pm and 7am and alcohol sales will also be banned from vending machines.

The plan will allegedly include government authorities working with different sectors across youth work industry, the hospitality industry, and the sports sector, to offer free drinking water in places where alcohol is sold in an effort to encourage people to drink enough water.

The Belgium government will develop and implement what it is calling an “alcohol care pathway” specifically for adolescents and young adults who end up up in hospital due to alcohol intoxication, a care programme.

Also, the authorities have outlined plans to make sure the new measures are thoroughly integrated into Belgium’s general policy and are set to include targeted groups such as nightlife, education, seniors and pregnant women.

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