BACKGROUND: A large-scale survey was conducted in 2008 in north west England, a region with high levels of alcohol-related harm, during a regional 'Big Drink Debate' campaign. The aim of this paper is to explore perceptions of how alcohol consumption would change if alcohol prices were to increase or decrease.

METHODS: A convenience survey of residents (>18 years) of north west England measured demographics, income, alcohol consumption in previous week, and opinions on drinking behaviour under two pricing conditions: low prices and discounts and increased alcohol prices (either 'decrease', 'no change' or 'increase'). Multinomial logistic regression used three outcomes: 'completely elastic' (consider that lower prices increase drinking and higher prices decrease drinking); 'lower price elastic' (lower prices increase drinking, higher prices have no effect); and 'price inelastic' (no change for either).

RESULTS: Of 22,780 drinkers surveyed, 80.3% considered lower alcohol prices and discounts would increase alcohol consumption, while 22.1% thought raising prices would decrease consumption, making lower price elasticity only (i.e. lower prices increase drinking, higher prices have no effect) the most common outcome (62%). Compared to a high income/high drinking category, the lightest drinkers with a low income (adjusted odds ratio AOR=1.78, 95% confidence intervals CI 1.38-2.30) or medium income (AOR=1.88, CI 1.47-2.41) were most likely to be lower price elastic. Females were more likely than males to be lower price elastic (65% vs 57%) while the reverse was true for complete elasticity (20% vs 26%, P<0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Lower pricing increases alcohol consumption, and the alcohol industry's continued focus on discounting sales encourages higher drinking levels. International evidence suggests increasing the price of alcohol reduces consumption, and one in five of the surveyed population agreed; more work is required to increase this agreement to achieve public support for policy change. Such policy should also recognise that alcohol is an addictive drug, and the population may be prepared to pay more to drink the amount they now feel they need.

This study examined prevalence of alcohol dependence symptoms and diagnosis among a nationally representative sample of recent onset adolescent drinkers aged 12-21 years (mean 17 years) across different levels of drinking drawn from National Survey of Drug Use and Health (N=9490). We assessed whether the relationship between level of alcohol use and alcohol dependence was similar for individuals from different socio-demographic groups (i.e., gender, age group, ethnic group, family income, and substance use in the past year). The most prevalent DSM-IV alcohol dependence criteria at low levels of alcohol use were "unsuccessful efforts to cut down", "tolerance", and "time spent" in activities necessary to obtain alcohol or recover from its effect. Logistic regression with polynomial contrasts indicated increasing rates of each criterion and an overall dependence diagnosis with increasing alcohol exposure that differed most between the lowest levels of recent drinking frequency. After controlling for drinking quantity, younger adolescents, females, Native American/Alaskans and Asian/Pacific Islanders were most likely to experience alcohol dependence symptoms and a diagnosis of dependence, suggesting that these demographic subgroups may experience dependence symptoms or develop dependence more quickly after beginning to drink. Recognizing early symptoms of alcohol dependence may assist in early identification and intervention of those at risk for heavier drinker in the future.

Unlike previous studies, which address the impact of alcohol advertising restrictions on alcohol demand, this article turns the issue around by investigating the determinants of alcohol advertising restrictions. Estimating a series of Probit models, our results show that the probability of adopting advertising restrictions tends to be higher in countries with higher life expectancy, higher per capita income, having a majority of the population that is Muslim and having a higher share of the population that is young. Population density, alcohol consumption and economic freedom play largely insignificant roles in the determination of advertising restrictions.

06 May 2014 In Pregnant Women

BACKGROUND: In 2009, Australian alcohol guidelines for pregnancy changed from low to no alcohol intake. Previous research found a high proportion of pregnant Australian women drank during pregnancy; however, there has been limited investigation of whether pregnant women comply with 2009 alcohol guidelines. The purpose of this study was to provide an assessment of pregnant women's compliance with 2009 Australian alcohol guidelines and identify predictors of such compliance, including previous drinking behaviour.

METHODS: Cross-sectional analysis of prospective data from the 1973-1978 cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health was conducted. Women aged 30-36 years who were pregnant at the 2009 survey and had data on alcohol use were included (n = 837). Compliance with 2009 alcohol guidelines for pregnancy was defined as no alcohol intake. Predictors of compliance were analysed using multivariate logistic regression, controlling for area of residence, in three separate models to account for multicollinearity between measures of previous alcohol intake (compliance with 2001 guidelines; frequency and quantity; bingeing). Private health insurance, household income, and illicit drug use were entered into all models and retained if significant.

RESULTS: 72% of pregnant women did not comply with the 2009 alcohol guidelines and 82% of these women drank less than seven drinks per week, with no more than one or two drinks per drinking day. The odds of complying with abstinence increased by a factor of 3.48 (95% CI 2.39-5.05) for women who previously complied with the 2001 alcohol guidelines and decreased by a factor of 0.19 (95% CI 0.08-0.66) if household incomes were $36,400 or more. In other models the odds of complying were lower for women who consumed alcohol before pregnancy at least weekly (OR = 0.40, 95% CI 0.25-0.63) or binged (OR >/= 0.18, 95% CI 0.10-0.31) and were higher for those who abstained (OR = 45.09; 95% CI 8.63-235.49) prior to pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: Most pregnant women did not comply with alcohol guidelines promoting abstinence. Prior alcohol behaviour was the strongest predictor of compliance during pregnancy, suggesting alcohol use should be addressed in women of child-bearing age. The study is limited by the relatively short timeframe between the official introduction of the 2009 guidelines and the date the surveys were sent out. Widespread dissemination of the guidelines may be necessary to help increase guideline compliance by pregnant women.

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