Where next for alcohol pricing?
It has been a busy year for alcohol duty , with the government reversing a planned increase last December, and a new system expected to come into force in August. The APPG on Alcohol Harm will be hosting a discussion around the direction of alcohol pricing after duty rates are announced in the spring budget.
This event, chaired by Christian Wakeford MP, will ask:
- What has happened during the cost-of-living crisis in terms of alcohol harm?
- What does the new duty system and budget decision mean for alcohol harm?
- Why does price have such an impact on alcohol harm? Where should government policy go next on this issue?
When: Tuesday 28 March, 4–5pm
Where: Room M, Portcullis House (or Zoom, please email for details).
All AHA members are welcome to attend the meeting. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is driving declines in alcohol-related violence?
Between 2009/10 and 2019/20, overall levels of alcohol-related violence have fallen across England and Wales. The Institute of Alcohol Studies has published a report exploring this pattern, identifying three ideas worthy of further investigation:
- Young people are drinking less than their peers of prior decades. The declines in youth drinking somewhat align with reductions in alcohol-related violence. As violence in night-time economy settings generally involves younger age groups, this could contribute to falling rates.
- While stranger and acquaintance alcohol-related violence has fallen, rates of alcohol-related domestic violence have remained steadier.
- Data artefacts such as counting errors may be affecting the trend reported, such as under-estimating the true extent of domestic violence.
Read an overview of the findings in this blog.
Why are young people drinking less?
Youth alcohol consumption has fallen markedly over the last 20 years in England. Researchers at the University of Sheffield have published a paper exploring the drivers of this decline from the perspectives of young people.
The authors conducted an online survey, along with individual and group interviews, and found eight themes used by young people:
- The potential for alcohol-related harm
- Contemporary youth culture and places of socialisation
- The affordability of alcohol
- Displacement of alcohol by other substances
- Access and the regulatory environment
- Disputing the decline
- Future orientations
- Parenting and the home environment
Although there were distinctions in the experiences and perspectives of different groups of young people – particularly in relation to age, gender, and socio-economic position – the research suggests that changing practices of socialisation, decreasing alcohol affordability, and evolving attitudes to risk and self-governance could offer key explanations.
Share your story in the Scottish Families online hub
Scottish Families have opened an online story hub, where people can anonymously share stories, thoughts, or experiences with other families across Scotland.
Stories are relatable and they humanise everything you are going through. They can support you if you don’t know where to start. They let you know you are not alone. They can help you take that step forward for support. Even reading stories can be a way to cope with what is going on.
You can read the stories already submitted and share your own here.
Job opportunity: Policy and research officer, Alcohol Change UK
Alcohol Change UK are recruiting a new policy and research officer to provide key support for the policy and research functions of the charity, carry out primary research, and provide input into strategic planning regarding policy and research activities.
- King’s Cross, London – but with high level of flexibility for remote working
- Salary: £28,733 to £30,170 + benefits (possibly more for an exceptional candidate, and pay scales may receive a cost-of-living increase in April 2023)
- Closing date: 9am Tuesday, 21 March 2023
Read the candidate pack and find out how to apply here.
Managing drug and alcohol problems in primary care
Royal College of General Practitioners
16–17 March 2023
Acknowledging the elephant: Understanding and reducing the burden of alcohol harm on hospital and health services
Alcohol Forum Ireland
30 March 2023
Email Paula Leonard (email@example.com) with any queries
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems
19 April 2023, 9.45am–3.30pm
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, EH2 1JQ
Alcohol evidence in policy and practice
SPECTRUM Consortium and University of Stirling
9–11 May 2023
Email Megan Cook (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any queries
MCA annual symposium on alcohol and health
Medical Council on Alcohol
22 November 2023
Royal College of Physicians London, NW1 4LE
Registration info to follow.
Meet the members
Every month, we speak to a member of the AHA to find out more about what they do and how their organisation is working to end alcohol harm.
Today we meet Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO of Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) since 2019.
How does your organisation help to reduce alcohol harm?
AAI researches the policy measures around reducing alcohol harm and advocates for their introduction in an Irish context. Our objectives are informed by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ‘best buys’ around alcohol policy – ie controls on price, marketing and availability of alcohol.
We have a particular goal for the full implementation of Irish legislation which reflects these ‘best buys’ – the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018. Right now, we are very focused on advocacy work on measures in the Act around health information labelling of alcohol products, including ground-breaking cancer warnings, and restrictions on alcohol advertising such as the broadcast watershed and controls on the content of alcohol ads.
We also advocate on issues for those who are directly harmed by alcohol, for example in our Silent Voices campaign. Founded by three individuals with lived experience of parental problem alcohol use, Silent Voices aims to raise awareness of this very hidden concern, which impacts at least 200,000 children and a further 400,000 adults living with the legacy of this trauma. We have gathered stories of those affected, analysed the content of these narratives, and used the findings to inform our advocacy work. We’ve worked closely with educators to highlight the need for trauma informed schools and for mental health professionals to have professional development in understanding the underlying issues. Much of this work has been highlighted during our annual End the Silence week together with resources such as a toolkit for individuals and professionals.
We also campaign for enhanced alcohol treatment services, which again should be trauma informed. Despite estimates that almost 600,000 people in Ireland have an alcohol use disorder, only 3,000 people accessed treatment for the first time last year.
What inspires you most in your job?
Jurisdictions such as Scotland, Norway and Lithuania provide inspiring examples of what can be achieved in addressing alcohol issues using the straightforward tools advocated by the WHO. Scotland paved the way for Ireland by introducing minimum unit pricing of alcohol. Norway has several excellent alcohol policies including a comprehensive ban on alcohol advertising and an innovative approach to selling alcohol through a state monopoly. Lithuania lowered alcohol use by 17% between 2015 and 2017, which has led to a 20% reduction of alcohol-attributable years of life lost.
Personally, I have really appreciated the international co-operation between NGOs and health advocates in challenging the dominant alcohol industry narrative. Many of these individuals and groups, often including lived experience expertise, are operating on shoestring budgets and facing highly aggressive industry tactics. They also work against a backdrop of saturation marketing myths which, as well as increasing alcohol sales, which often stymie political progress on alcohol controls. The sharing of approaches which work best, as well as the individual encouragement, has really helped me, especially as I am still quite new to this area, and I greatly appreciate the decades of work that has been done by others.
What change do you think would make the biggest difference in reducing alcohol harm?
I think the change that would make the biggest difference in reducing alcohol harm would be the alcohol equivalent of the WHO framework convention on tobacco control. The global nature of the alcohol market means there must be international co-operation with a shared understanding of the controls needed and the legal powers to confront this harmful industry and to bring about lasting change.