28 days without drinking any alcohol. This is the objective of the #TournéeMinérale campaign (literally “soft drinks all round”) that the Belgian Foundation against Cancer (Fondation Contre le Cancer, FCC) has launched, as it is a major cause of tumour development in the human body. It’s no coincidence that this initiative has been launched in a country with some of the highest alcohol consumption levels in Europe, a long beer-drinking tradition and a wide range of small breweries.
"Take the challenge and go sober this February". This is one of the campaign slogans, encouraging people to drink mineral water. The campaign’s promotional video shows day-to-day situations where drinking alcohol is normal, whilst also presenting the advantages of substituting it with water, with a final message that implies that not drinking alcohol will make you feel better.
According to data collected by the foundation, in 2013 82% of Belgians consumed some kind of alcoholic beverage. The challenge isn’t easy. Those who want to take part can do so individually or in groups, through work teams or sports clubs for example. The aim is to get word out about the campaign to as many people as possible and get them to take part.
The FCC has also launched a fundraising campaign for all those who want to donate some money to help cancer research. The objective for donations is to raise €200,000, and up to now they have managed to raise over half of that sum.
In a country where alcohol is so deeply tied to social interaction, the FCC recommended alternative beverages such as orange juice, mocktails smoothies or flavoured water. Among the benefits of not consuming alcohol are, on top of avoiding a hangover the next day, better sleep, more energy during the day, better skin (given that alcohol dries your skin out) and even weight loss, as alcohol is very calorific.
In 2014, every family in Belgium spent around €462 on alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is connected to different types of cancer, such as throat, laryngeal, liver, oesophageal and rectal, and developing countries it’s estimated that alcohol is the cause of 3 to 10% of cancers.