The World Health Organization (WHO) Tuesday agreed to target alcohol and alcohol addiction worldwide with a campaign warning against the risks of abuse.
European countries are the greatest consumers of alcohol, with the Czech Republic consuming more beer than any other country and Luxembourg more wine, according to WHO figures. Moldova, the Russian Federation and Thailand are among the biggest consumers of spirits.
The move follows a similar WHO initiative against smoking in 2003 when the world body organized the anti-tobacco convention.
The WHO estimates there are two billion alcohol consumers worldwide. Some 87 million of them live in Europe, that is 10 percent of the population. There were 2.3 million cases of alcoholism, with alcohol blamed for 1.8 million deaths a year or 3.2 percent of the total.
Alcohol is said to play a role in 20 to 30 percent of cases of cancer, liver, chest and throat disease and is blamed for up to a third of all traffic accidents.
Alcohol consumption and diseases related to drink are twice as high in Europe compared with the average worldwide. It was responsible for 55,000 deaths in young people aged 15 to 29 in 1999.
The WHO plans to launch a worldwide drive to curb alcohol consumption in 2009.