EU lawmakers water down warnings on alcohol as cause of cancer

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STRASBOURG, Feb 16 (Reuters) – EU lawmakers watered down their warning to Europeans over alcohol’s links to cancer, stressing only excessive consumption as a risk factor and recommending labels should include advice on moderate drinking rather than a blunter health message.

The European Parliament’s resolution is non-binding but could guide new rules from the European Commission, such as those due in 2023 on labelling of alcoholic drinks and possible tax revisions to discourage consumption.

The lawmakers agreed on the need for more cancer screening and curbs on smoking, but alcohol proved a contentious issue in a vote whose results were released on Wednesday.

The original resolution contained a reference to the view of the World Health Organization that there was no safe level of alcohol consumption when it came to cancer prevention and said alcohol consumption was a risk factor for many cancers.

However, a series of amendments passed, rephrasing the WHO reference to say it recognised the safest level of alcohol consumption is none and saying that only “harmful” alcohol consumption should be seen as a risk.

The lawmakers also steered away from recommending health warnings on alcoholic drinks labels and instead said they should include information on moderate and responsible drinking.

The initial resolution had also called for a ban on sports sponsorship by alcoholic drinks companies, but the revised text instead said that ban should only apply to events that were mainly attended by minors.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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