The Emergence of an EU Lifestyle Policy: The Case of Alcohol, Tobacco and Unhealthy Diets

36 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2014

Date Written: December 21, 2013


This article provides the first systematic analysis of the emergence of an embryonic EU lifestyle policy. Despite its limited competence in public health, the European Union has progressively recognized the impact of Non-Communicable Diseases – as prompted by the leading risk factors, such as tobacco consumption, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets – on the EU’s economy and the well-being of its citizens.

The article first discusses how the EU has gradually addressed the challenge posed by NCDs by developing a body of rules intended to promote healthier lifestyles (Part I). It then examines the legality of EU action intended to promote healthier lifestyles, assessing its compliance with the key constitutional principles on which all EU intervention must rest: the principles of attributed powers, subsidiarity and proportionality, as well as respect for fundamental rights (Part II). In so doing it provides a taxonomy of the different forms of intervention that have been experimented at the EU level, including: (i) disclosure requirements and information schemes; (ii) marketing restrictions; (iii) measures affecting product availability as well as (iv) fiscal measures.

It demonstrates that, even though law is not a panacea, it has an important role to play in ensuring that healthy choices are facilitated. NCD prevention has become a strategic priority worldwide at national, regional and global level, and the EU has no option but to embrace – in light of both its constitutional principles and international legal obligations – the challenges that it poses.

Keywords: Public health, European Union, WHO, NCD, Tobacco, Alcohol, Unhealthy diets, Competence, Subsidiarity, Proportionality, Impact Assessment

JEL Classification: K1, K2, K20, K32, K33

Suggested Citation

Alemanno, Alberto and Garde, Amandine, The Emergence of an EU Lifestyle Policy: The Case of Alcohol, Tobacco and Unhealthy Diets (December 21, 2013). Common Market Law Review, Vol. 50, No. 6, 2013, Available at SSRN:

Alberto Alemanno (Contact Author)

HEC Paris ( email )

1 Rue de la libération


Amandine Garde

Durham University - Law School ( email )

50 North Bailey
Palatine Centre
Durham, County Durham DH1 3ET
United Kingdom

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