Achieving Positive Change in the Drinking Culture of Wales

Authors: John Bailey, Rob Poole, Fiona Zinovieff, Catherine A Robinson, Odette Parry, Karen Tocque, Lynne Kennedy

Funded By: Alcohol Concern Cymru

Started: 2010

Finished: 2011

Contact: John Bailey

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Key findings

  • It is well established that the price and affordability of alcohol is the key determinant of the overall level of consumption amongst all groups in the general population. This is the strongest finding in the international literature.
  • Most of the evidence on the impact of price changes on alcohol consumption is based upon the effects of alterations in taxation or duties. Although international experience of minimum pricing is limited, there is good reason to believe that it would be effective in controlling alcohol consumption amongst at-risk groups such as young people.
  • Where alcohol consumption is controlled through manipulation of price, the full benefits in terms of reduction of alcohol-related harm will only be seen where price increases are sustained and index linked against inflation.
  • Reducing the availability of alcohol by restricting the number of retail outlets is effective in reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol related harm.
  • Local measures on price and availability of alcohol can be effective, although a proportion of the population is prepared to travel to purchase at a lower price.
  • The strength of the evidence on Brief Interventions in primary care is sufficient to conclude that they are an effective means of reducing harm, and that they are an important component to the overall strategy to limit the health and social harm caused by alcohol.
  • There is little evidence that health education campaigns on their own are effective in influencing the population’s drinking behaviour. Nonetheless, many experts consider that it is an essential component to an overall strategy to limit alcohol related harm.
  • Although alcohol advertising is known to influence some sections of the population, such as young people, there is little evidence that advertising restrictions or bans have a significant impact. However, as is the case with health education, expert opinion suggests that it may be an important component to overall alcohol strategy.
  • There is evidence that alcohol industry sponsored campaigns to promote responsible drinking are ineffective or counter-productive. There is a strong body of international opinion that suggests that the industry should not be engaged as a partner in efforts to reduce alcohol related harm.
  • Although alcohol policy in Wales has to take European and UK factors into account, regional initiatives can have an impact. Alcohol policy should be part of a long term, integrated strategy.

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