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French Seek NIAAA Advice on Alcohol Policy

Concern over the recent increase in alcohol use among French youth, as well as a heightened perception of the seriousness of the medical and social problems resulting from France's high rates of alcoholism, prompted a recent visit from members of the French National Congress to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The six-member delegation was part of a special mission on alcohol and health, which is gathering information to reform current laws representing national alcohol policy in France.

The French legislators met with NIAAA director Dr. Enoch Gordis and his staff to learn how alcohol research can play an important role in policy development and decision making. NIAAA staff provided the French delegation with information about the institute's research in the areas of taxation, drinking and driving legislation, the risks and benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, community prevention strategies, and the most promising interventions targeted toward preadolescents to prevent early alcohol use.

A French delegation visited NIAAA recently to get advice on alcohol policy. Visitors and their hosts included (seated, from l) Dr. M. Denis Jaquat, president of the delegation; Dr. Enoch Gordis, director, NIAAA; Dr. Jean-Francois Lacronique, counselor, Health and Social Affairs, French Embassy; (standing, from l ) Vanina Patriarche (France); Claude Bartolone (France); Dr. Michel Ghysel (France); Dr. Bernard Leccia (France); Francisque Perrut (France); Dr. Mary Dufour, deputy director, NIAAA; Peggy Murray, coordinator, International Program, NIAAA; and Dr. Faye Calhoun, associate director for collaborative research, NIAAA.

Gordis stressed the importance of science as a tool in policy development: "Science can facilitate the task of choosing among complex social policies. In both the U.S. and France, alcohol is part of the culture and is widely used. In addition, sales of alcoholic beverages are an important source of revenue for our governments, through taxation, as well as for the individuals who make up the industry that manufactures it. However, alcohol sales and consumption must be regulated for health, social, and economic purposes. Choosing among policies to regulate the use of alcohol to accomplish the greater good is not easy, and one policy always runs the risk of being at cross purposes with another. Science can help make the task of choosing among policies more rational."

NIAAA staff also had the opportunity to learn about French concerns regarding alcohol use among their young people; the changing patterns of drinking, including mixing alcohol with other substances; and the debate in France over strict laws on advertising.

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