06 May 2014 In General Health




Nearly all countries regulate distilled spirits differently from beer andwine. However, the scientific basis for this differential treatment hasnot been clearly established. This review covers beverage-specificrelationships with alcohol-related mortality causes at the populationlevel in the United States and includes a new analysis of motorvehicle-accident mortality. Spirits were found to be more stronglyrelated to, or the only beverage type with a significant positiveassociation with, cirrhosis, IHD, and head and neck cancer mortality.Spirits sales, along with beer, were also implicated in motor-vehicleaccidentmortality and homicide. While all three beverage types werefound to be associated with suicide mortality, only spirits had asignificant unlagged association. These associations were found underpolicy arrangements where spirits were discouraged with relativelyhigher taxes, lower availability, and more restricted marketingopportunities. This suggests that the differential policy treatmentfound in the United States and most other countries is justified on thebasis of differential-harm relationships.




06 May 2014 In General Health




Alcohol, like mental health, is a neglected topic in public health discussions. However, it should be defined as a priority public health area because the evidence available to support this is very persuasive. Although only half the world's population drinks alcohol, it is the world's third leading cause of ill health and premature death, after low birth weight and unsafe sex, and the world's greatest cause of ill health and premature death among individuals between 25 and 59 years of age. This article aims to outline current global experiences with alcohol policies and suggests how to communicate better evidence-based policy responses to alcohol-related harm using narratives. The text summarizes 6 actions to provide incentives that would favor a healthier relationship with alcohol in contemporary society. Actions include price and availability changes, marketing regulations, changes in the format of drinking places and on the product itself, and actions designed to nudge people at the time of their purchasing decisions. Communicating alcohol narratives to policymakers more successfully will likely require a discourse emphasizing the reduction of heavy drinking occasions and the protection of others from someone else's problematic drinking.




Introduction and Aims: This paper contrasts health-oriented low-risk drinking guidelines (LRDGs) with social drinking marketing and popular advice on the amount of alcohol to be provided for social occasions. The questions addressed include: What is the underlying evidence base and rationale for health-oriented versus socially oriented drinking guidelines? What are the recommended amounts of alcohol per person from the LRDGs and from popular advice?

Design and Methods: This paper draws on existing research, archival data, websites, print media and key informant interviews. The focus is on recent information on LRDGs and social drinking indicators in Canada, the USA, Australia and the UK.

Results: There is extensive epidemiological research indicating the associations between drinking pattern and risk for chronic disease and trauma as well as certain potential health benefits from drinking small amounts regularly. This body of evidence is one resource for government or medically sanctioned LRDGs in many jurisdictions. In contrast, for those planning social events where liquor is served, information is available from the hospitality industry, retailers and liquor control boards. While some overlap exists between these two sources of information, in some contexts normative recommendations support drinking at potentially dangerous levels.

Discussion and Conclusions: The inconsistency among the different guidelines highlights one of the challenges of conveying health information on a drug that is integrated into social life and used extensively. It also reflects a siloed approach to alcohol policy-where retailing and harm reduction practices are managed by different sectors of government that seldom reflect a coordinated response. 

Introduction and Aims: In response to increasing concerns about excessive drinking among young people the Australian alcohol industry announced that it will introduce more visible standard drink labels. This study sought to examine whether young people use this information in a way that decreases, or increases, alcohol-related harms.

Design and Methods: Six focus groups with students enrolled in an undergraduate university course in a large regional city in New South Wales, recruited by direct approach on the university grounds and via an online message posted on the university bulletin board.

Results: The majority of the participants reported that they are aware of the existence of standard drink labelling; notice standard drink labels; and take these into account when choosing what to purchase. However, this was predominantly to help them choose the strongest drinks for the lowest cost.

Discussion and Conclusions: This study provides initial evidence to support the view that standard drink labelling, in isolation of other modifications to product packaging and marketing, is likely to serve to further increase heavy drinking among young people.

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