The Swedish Presidency of the EU is holding its second conference to discuss the issue of alcohol and health.

The 450 participants in the conference, being held at the Norra Latin Conference Centre in Stockholm, are drawn from EU institutions and member states, but also include representatives from a range of other stakeholder organisations including industry.

The main theme of the first day of the conference yesterday (21 Sept) was the protection of children, young people and unborn babies from alcohol-related harm.

In addition to discussing the issues of health warnings on alcohol and alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the conference also discussed the advertising and marketing of alcohol, and specifically the exposure of children and young people to different forms of alcohol commercial communication.

Ildiko Fazekas of ORT, the Hungarian self-regulatory organisation, gave a presentation detailing how self-regulatory mechanisms help to prevent irresponsible alcohol advertising, and the role advertising self-regulatory organisations can play in this area.

There was also a discussion about forms of alcohol marketing communication beyond traditional advertising, such as new media and sponsorship. A review of the research in this area and findings from research conducted by the Institute for Social Marketing was presented by Ross Gordon of the Institute for Social Marketing at the Open University and the University of Stirling.

Today, the schedule includes a workshop session on the Alcohol and Health Forum's Taskforce on Marketing Communication. Chaired by Robert Madelin, Director-General of the European Commission's DG Health and Consumers (DG Sanco), the aim of the session is to present some aspects of the taskforce's work on marketing communication to the expert audience for advice and feedback.

Specifically, it will review progress in developing self-regulation structures for marketing communication within the EU and present different perspectives for a roadmap ahead to strengthen this approach. Included on the panel will be Jamie Fortescue, director general of European spirits trade association CEPS.

Another key part of today's programme is a seminar on alcohol pricing. Organised by the European Public Health Alliance, the seminar will discuss the role pricing policy may play in helping to reduce alcohol-related harm. Dr Nick Sheron of the Royal College of Physicians, in the UK, and Jack Law, chief executive of Alcohol Focus, Scotland, are to make presentations.

Having made addressing alcohol-related harm one of the key priorities of its presidency, this is the second major conference Sweden has held on the issue since its term began. In July, the Swedish presidency convened a two-day informal meeting of health ministers at Jönköping in southern Sweden to discuss alcohol policy in the EU.