This month, people living in Belgium are being encouraged to refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages until the end of February as part of the Tournée Minérale campaign.
People living in the country famed for its beers consume an average of 12 litres of pure alcohol per person every year, putting them in the lead in Europe. It is also the leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29. The campaign is once again encouraging people to go alcohol-free for the entirety of the shortest month of the year.
"An alcohol-free month helps people to take a moment to consciously think about how they deal with alcohol. That's especially gratifying," said Tom Evenepoel, coordinator of De Drugslijn (the coordinator of the campaign in Flanders).
"Surveys during previous editions confirmed this time and again: more than four in five participants found Tournée Minérale to be a positive experience." Over the years, millions of people across Belgium have already taken part in the alcohol-free month.
Aside from the many benefits that a period without alcohol has on people's health — drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancers and hinders a good night's sleep — the collective nature of the campaign also has a broad social impact, as it encourages people to have conversations about alcohol and its effects.
In Flanders, the Tournée Minérale campaign focuses on family parties, where drinking alcohol is often assumed as a type of custom or tradition, while the French-speaking campaign aims to fight against the excessive and therefore harmful use of alcohol.
Participating in 'Tournée Minérale' is not a solution for those who experience problems with their alcohol consumption. Are you worried about your alcohol use or that of someone around you? You can get help from The Drug Line for tailored initial advice (anonymous contact is possible).