In the European Union (EU) in 2004, alcohol was responsible for 1 in 7 male deaths and 1 in 13 female deaths in the age group 15-64, resulting in approximately 120,000 premature deaths.
The 2010 figures from EU member states show adults (+15 years old) consume 10.2 litres of pure alcohol a year. When Norway, Switzerland and the EU candidate countries are included in the number drops to 9.4 litres of alcohol per capita per year.
The European Alcohol Action Plan (1992-1999) was the first campaign in the world that addressed the harmful consumption of alcohol. This plan was updated in 2000 and again in 2006 by the Framework for Alcohol Policy in the WHO European Region.
In only some of the Nordic countries are there government-controlled monopoly arrangements for the sale of alcoholic drinks. In Norway and Finland these are for alcohol stronger than 4.7% and in Sweden for beverages stronger than 3.5%. In most EU countries the sale of alcohol is controlled by a licensing system.
As of 2013 there is a a minimum age limit in all European countries for the on- and off-premises sale of alcohol. This varies between 16 years to 20 years old. The most common age for alcohol sales is 18. For example, Iceland has a minimum age limit of 20 for all alcohol sales, whether on- or off-premises. For the majority of Spain the minimum age is at the other end of spectrum at 16 years.
The recently released Status Report on Alcohol and Health in 35 European Countries looks at data from 35 countries in the WHO European region, including all EU countries, Croatia (becomes a member July 1 2013), EU candidate countries, Norway and Switzerland.