World Health Organisation members have approved plans for a new strategy to curb the harmful effects of alcohol.
Delegates from the WHO's 193 member states meeting at its annual assembly called on Director General Margaret Chan to draw up a draft global strategy over the next two years on how best to tackle the problem.
The WHO said it was "deeply concerned by the extent of public health problems associated with harmful use of alcohol, including injuries and violence".
Spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said member states also drew attention to the links between alcohol and domestic violence, the risks to pregnant women and road safety.
The exact form and content of the draft global strategy was unclear, but Chaib said no states had proposed a strict convention comparable to the one adopted by WHO against tobacco in 2005.
Awareness charities unconvinced
The WHO estimates that alcohol is responsible for about four percent of deaths each year.
Prior to the assembly, alcohol awareness charities voiced scepticism about the effectiveness of any new initiatives given the considerable clout of the drinks industry.
"We're not particularly hopeful," said Frank Soodeen, head of public affairs for the UK-based group Alcohol Concern. "There's no doubting the tremendous lobbying power of the drinks industry," he told AFP. – (Sapa, May 2008)
WHO tackles alcohol issue