Government's alcohol strategy will fail because of partnership approach with drinks industry

September 08, 2005

The Government's strategy on alcohol will do nothing to tackle problem drinking in Britain, because it "embraces the industry's diagnosis and preferred remedies", says an editorial in this week's BMJ.

Current policy accepts the industry view that those who endanger their health through drinking and take part in anti-social behaviour are a minority, and should be targeted through education campaigns, treatment, better policing and self-regulation from the industry.

But these are exactly the policies least likely to reduce problem drinking according to the evidence, says the author.

The rise in drinking in Britain is probably the result of lowering the cost of alcohol while increasing its availability, mixed with heavy promotion of alcohol in British cities, he argues.

Alcohol abuse is now thought to cost the British economy £30bn a year, and alcohol dependency rates in the UK are amongst the highest in Europe, at 7.5% of British men and 2.1% of British women.

The most effective policy to reduce problem drinking is to increase taxes on drinks with the highest alcohol concentration - a policy which the Government has snubbed, rejecting the views of the world's leading researchers on alcohol.

In Australia, a country with liberal licensing laws, alcohol consumption has fallen per head by 24% in twenty years, while at the same time rising by 31% in the UK. A policy of lowering taxes on low alcohol drinks, reducing the drink-driving limit to 0.05% (rather than the UK's 0.08%) with vigorous enforcement, has been effective. Low alcohol beer now accounts for 40% of all beer consumed in Australia.

The two alcohol reduction treatments evaluated in this week's BMJ - motivational enhancement treatment and social network therapy - are cost-effective, and ministers should also look at investing in these to increase access for those affected.

If the Government wants to prevent a "worsening epidemic" of alcohol misuse, it should replace its current policies with some that "have a chance of reducing (rather than merely preventing further rises in) alcohol related harm," concludes the author.


Related Alcohol Articles from Brightsurf:

Alcohol use changed right after COVID-19 lockdown
One in four adults reported a change in alcohol use almost immediately after stay-at-home orders were issued: 14% reported drinking more alcohol and reported higher levels of stress and anxiety than those who did not drink and those whose use stayed the same.

Changes in hospitalizations for alcohol use disorder in US
Changes over nearly two decades in the rate of hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths from alcohol use disorder in the US were examined in this study.

Associations of alcohol consumption, alcohol-induced passing out with risk of dementia
The risk of future dementia associated with overall alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced loss of consciousness in a population of current drinkers was examined in this observational study with more than 131,000 adults.

New alcohol genes uncovered
Do you have what is known as problematic alcohol use?

Does estrogen influence alcohol use disorder?
A new study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that high estrogen levels may make alcohol more rewarding to female mice.

Sobering new data on drinking and driving: 15% of US alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol under the legal limit
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, found that motor vehicle crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) below the legal limit of 0.08 percent accounted for 15% of alcohol-involved crash deaths in the United States.

Alcohol-induced deaths in US
National vital statistics data from 2000 to 2016 were used to examine how rates of alcohol-induced deaths (defined as those deaths due to alcohol consumption that could be avoided if alcohol weren't involved) have changed in the US and to compare the results by demographic groups including sex, race/ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status and geographic location.

Cuts in alcohol duty linked to 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England
Government cuts to alcohol taxes have had dramatic consequences for public health, including nearly 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England since 2012, according to new research from the University of Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR).

Integrated stepped alcohol treatment for people in HIV care improves both HIV & alcohol outcomes
Increasing the intensity of treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) over time improves alcohol-related outcomes among people with HIV, according to new clinical research supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet:Targets to reduce harmful alcohol use are likely to be missed as global alcohol intake increases
Increasing rates of alcohol use suggest that the world is not on track to achieve targets against harmful alcohol use, according to a study of 189 countries' alcohol intake between 1990-2017 and estimated intake up to 2030, published in The Lancet.

Read More: Alcohol News and Alcohol Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to