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HOT TOPIC 2017 HTM file
Controlling alcohol-related crime and disorder
‘Hot topics’ offer background and analysis on important issues which sometimes generate heated debate. Within UK substance use policy alcohol-related violence and disorder has for decades been a high profile concern. For governments mindful of a drinking electorate, the conundrum is how to curb the fallout from drinking without being branded as a nanny-state killjoy.
Unable to draw on evidence from ‘gold standard’ randomised controlled trials, this review used nine criteria to assess the effect of minimum unit pricing – finding on balance that setting a minimum price per unit of alcohol was likely to reduce alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms.
Minimum price increases of alcoholic beverages in a Canadian province between 2002 and 2013 set the stage for a real-word study of minimum unit pricing. Reductions in alcohol-related hospital admissions, particularly in lower income areas, tentatively suggest that low income regions may experience the greatest health benefits of such a policy.
STUDY 2016 HTM file
Monitoring and evaluating Scotland’s alcohol strategy: Final annual report
The final report evaluating Scotland’s alcohol strategy concludes that while some evidence-based interventions have been implemented, failure to implement minimum unit pricing is likely to have limited the strategy’s contribution to declines in both alcohol consumption and related harm.
Whether alcohol tax rises would be an acceptable and effective alternative could determine the legality under EU law of Scotland’s law permitting a minimum unit price for alcohol. This analysis predicts tax rises would curb consumption and save lives, but not without perhaps unacceptably hitting the pockets of non-harmful drinkers.
An ambitious attempt to use research to understand the most effective and cost-effective set of policies for reducing alcohol-related harm in the English context, from taxation and price regulation to managing the drinking environment.
Playing team sports is associated with heavy drinking, but through an alcohol management code voluntarily entered in to and policed by sports clubs themselves, this unique randomised trial from Australia claims to have found a way to turn the tide without having to strengthen formal enforcement.
Though price rises would have been modest, still the increase in alcohol taxes in Illinois in 2009 significantly reduced fatal alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes by at least 15% over the following 28 months.
REVIEW 2015 HTM file
Prevention of addictive behaviours
Based largely on existing reviews, this report for the German Federal Centre for Health Education comprehensively assesses substance use prevention approaches. Among its many conclusions are that approaches based solely on information provision are ineffective, in contrast to the more positive evidence for lifeskills and multi-component community programmes.
Approaches to alcohol policy differ widely across the UK. Scottish policy appears to be most closely aligned with evidence-based recommendations, framing alcohol as a whole population issue, in contrast with UK government policy which is influenced to a greater extent by prevailing beliefs about personal responsibility for alcohol issues.
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