STA, 6 March 2019 - A campaign urging people to abstain from alcohol for the next 40 days until Easter started on Wednesday for the 14th year running, reminding the public of the dangers of alcohol consumption.
The campaign, instigated by Slovenian Caritas, the Slovenian Traffic Safety Agency, and the prevention organisation Med.Over.Net Institute, is running under the slogan "For a responsible drinking culture".
It encourages a responsible attitude towards drinking "at home, on the roads, at work, in company or wherever", secretary general of Slovenian Caritas Cveto Uršič told reporters.
The campaign, coinciding with the Catholic period of Lent, supports everybody who is suffering due to the negative effects of alcohol consumption such as violence, accidents, or health problems.
Uršič pointed out the "extremely cruel" statistics in terms of alcohol consumption. At least 1,000 people on average die every year because of alcohol-related reasons. In the last five years, drink driving caused 7,907 traffic accidents in Slovenia, 157 deaths and 732 gravely injured.
"Alcohol often leads to domestic violence, workplace violence, and bullying. It can also result in unemployment and poverty or is caused by them," Uršič said.
The representative of Med.Over.Net Institution, Andreja Verovšek, stressed that giving up alcohol was a decision demanding a lot of persistence and support.
According to the National Institute of Public Health's (NIJZ) data, almost half of Slovenians between 25 and 64 years of age (43%) consume too much alcohol, crossing the recommended consumption limit.
Alcohol-related costs to Slovenia's health system for the period between 2012 and 2016 are estimated at EUR 147m per year. Including all other related costs, such as the ones caused by accidents and domestic violence, the estimate rises to EUR 228m.
The ambassador of this year's campaign, journalist and presenter Igor E. Bergant, said the campaign raised awareness of a major social problem, as well as sent a positive message of educating instead of judging.
He stressed the importance of a zero-tolerance policy while driving or working, and the importance of being a role model for children. Bergant also acknowledged that Slovenia's stance on alcohol consumption had always been over-tolerant and therefore problematic.
Slovenian Caritas has included older pupils of primary schools and high school students in the campaign, inviting them to contribute to the prevention project with their own ideas and creations. They were encouraged to consider maintaining relationships, health, prosperity, and fun without alcohol and other drugs.
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