77 episodes

Welcome to the Alcohol Alert, the Institute of Alcohol Studies newsletter, covering the latest updates on UK alcohol policy matters.

Please subscribe for access to the podcast.

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Alcohol Alert Podcast Institute of Alcohol Studies

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Welcome to the Alcohol Alert, the Institute of Alcohol Studies newsletter, covering the latest updates on UK alcohol policy matters.

Please subscribe for access to the podcast.

instalcstud.substack.com

    Alcohol Alert - July 2022

    Alcohol Alert - July 2022

    Hello and welcome to the Alcohol Alert, brought to you by The Institute of Alcohol Studies.

    In this edition:

    Shift in England’s drinking during COVID-19 could lead to 150,000 more cases of disease by 2035 🎵 Podcast feature 🎵

    The global burden of poor analysis

    Minimum pricing has never been promoted as a panacea

    Pubs: “lost forever” or consolidated?

    Health Disparities white paper delayed

    Boris Johnson “minimises” sexual harassment and blames alcohol

    Industry arguments dominate Commons debate on alcohol tax reform

    Alcohol packaging captures the attention of and creates appeal among young people

    Alcohol Toolkit Study: update

    We hope you enjoy our roundup of stories below: please feel free to share. Thank you.

    IAS Blogs

    To read blogs click here.

    Shift in England’s drinking during COVID-19 could lead to 150,000 more cases of disease by 2035 🎵 Podcast feature 🎵

    A new IAS and HealthLumen modelling study suggests changes in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to lead to thousands of additional cases of diseases and premature deaths.

    The pandemic saw heavier drinkers consuming more alcohol and this trend is continuing. If consumption does not return to 2019 levels or lower, England could see an additional 147,892 cases and 9,914 additional premature deaths from nine alcohol-related diseases, costing the NHS £1.2bn.

    Three scenarios were modelled between 2022 and 2035 to project how recent changes in drinking may affect health harm from nine alcohol-related diseases: high blood pressure, stroke, liver cirrhosis, and six forms of cancer. The research found:

    Joint Lead on the study Dr Sadie Boniface said:

    “Much of the health harm from alcohol is from chronic diseases which take years to develop. Our results shed light on the long-term impacts of recent changes in drinking patterns.

    “These increases in alcohol harm, lives lost, and costs to the NHS projected in our study are not inevitable.

    “Deaths from alcohol are at record levels, and this research should act as a ‘wake-up call’ to take alcohol harm seriously as part of recovery planning from the pandemic.”

    A very similar modelling study by the University of Sheffield was published at the same time and backed up IAS’ findings. The Sheffield study looked at more diseases across a longer period of time, so projected higher alcohol-related deaths and hospital admissions.

    Dr Boniface was interviewed on the BBC News, explaining the study findings and implications:

    If you missed our launch webinar, where Dr Boniface and Sheffield’s lead author Colin Angus presented their studies, you can catch up on YouTube here.

    The global burden of poor analysis

    In mid-July, a new Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study was published in The Lancet. The GBD study is a long-running observational epidemiological study. Their new publication was widely covered in the media with most either stating that “alcohol is never good for people under 40” or “Young people should not drink alcohol but older people may benefit from small amounts”.

    The study found that for men aged 15-39, the recommended amount of alcohol before “risking health loss” was just 0.136 of a standard drink a day. For women of the same age, the “theoretical minimum risk exposure level” was 0.273 drinks – about a quarter of a standard drink a day.

    Among those aged 40-64, safe alcohol consumption levels ranged from about half a standard drink a day to almost two standard drinks. For those aged 65 or older, the risks of “health loss from alcohol consumption” were reached after consuming a little more than three standard drinks a day.

    The senior author, Dr Emmanuela Gakidou, professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, said:

    “Our message is simple: young people should not drink, but older people may benefit from drinking small amounts.”

    This is in contrast to their study four y

    • 18 min
    Alcohol Alert - June 2022

    Alcohol Alert - June 2022

    Hello and welcome to the Alcohol Alert, brought to you by The Institute of Alcohol Studies.

    In this edition:

    International experts call for ban on all alcohol promotion 🎵 Podcast feature 🎵

    ‘No clear evidence’ MUP reduces harmful drinking

    Vast difference in alcohol-related deaths remains between richest and poorest in Scotland

    Contents Unknown: How alcohol labelling still fails consumers

    ‘No place for cheap alcohol: The potential value of minimum pricing for protecting lives’

    Sobriety tags rolled-out further despite no evidence of efficacy

    Irish Government makes moves to improve product labelling

    Brexit Freedoms Bill could deliver pint-sized wine bottles

    No and low alcohol sales double in the UK

    Alcohol Toolkit Study: update

    We hope you enjoy our roundup of stories below: please feel free to share. Thank you.

    IAS Blogs

    To read blogs click here.

    International experts call for ban on all alcohol promotion 🎵 Podcast feature 🎵

    Realising Our Rights, a new report launched on 28 June by Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS) and a group of subject experts, calls on governments across the world to introduce comprehensive restrictions on alcohol marketing in order to improve health.

    The publication explains how increasingly sophisticated marketing means that people are being constantly bombarded with positive messages about how alcohol enhances their lives. The alcohol marketing experts who helped develop the report point out that this seeks to build long-term relationships between people and alcohol brands, which reinforce alcohol as a social norm and ultimately contribute to high levels of consumption and harm across the world.

    They particularly draw attention to at-risk population groups, with children and young people, and people at risk of an alcohol problem, more affected than others.

    A number of additional pieces of research were commissioned to help develop the report, including research examining the impact of alcohol marketing on people with an alcohol problem. The complementary research found that this demographic has an increased susceptibility to alcohol marketing, which fosters positive alcohol-related emotions and increases their likelihood of drinking.

    The group’s recommendations include:

    Additional research for the report included analysing case studies from seven countries with marketing restrictions, to understand the processes, successes and challenges to introducing these restrictions. These case studies can be used by countries looking to introduce similar restrictions, to better understand issues around:

    Utilising a window of opportunity

    Opposition from the alcohol industry

    How to frame regulations

    Use of evidence and arguments

    The AFS report includes a human rights-based approach to marketing restrictions, highlighting that states have a legal obligation to protect citizens’ rights – such as the right to health – and that commodities that infringe on these rights need further restriction.

    AFS’ Chief Executive, Alison Douglas, said:

    “The current self-regulatory approach to alcohol marketing is failing to protect people and has led to our communities being wallpapered with promotions for a product that harms our health.

    “People don’t just have a need to be protected from alcohol marketing they have a right to be protected.  A number of other countries have already imposed bans on alcohol marketing, if we want to create a more positive culture where everyone can realise their right to health, the UK and Scottish governments must act to restrict alcohol marketing.”

    The Scottish Government is consulting this year on marketing restrictions, and the Minister for Public Health, Maree Todd said:

    “I welcome this report and will study carefully its detailed findings and recommendations. I am determined to tackle the harmful impacts that alcohol marketing can have on children and young people, as well as the triggering effect it can have on heavy drinke

    • 20 min
    Alcohol Alert - May 2022

    Alcohol Alert - May 2022

    Hello and welcome to the Alcohol Alert, brought to you by The Institute of Alcohol Studies.

    In this edition:

    Alcohol packaging as a health communications tool 🎵 Podcast feature 🎵

    WHO marketing report exposes loophole; Assembly agrees to action plan; and industry donations to the WHO Foundation

    Is it enough to reduce youth exposure to alcohol ads?

    Should people who are overweight have lower drinking guidelines?

    The pollution of health discourse and need for effective counter-framing

    Europe ignoring alcohol harm as impediment to sustainability

    Alcohol Toolkit Study: update

    We hope you enjoy our roundup of stories below: please feel free to share. Thank you.

    IAS Blogs

    To read blogs click here.

    IAS Annual Report 2021/22

    Our Annual Report 2021/22 is available on our website here, detailing the work our team has done over the past year. Thank you to everyone who has supported IAS this year!

    Events

    Alcohol Health Alliance: Alcohol Harm and Ethnicity

    The next AHA Seminar Session will be held on 29th June 2022 at 2PM. 

    The speakers Dr Laura Goodwin, Jo-Anne Puddephatt and Jaz Rai OBE will be discussing alcohol harm and ethnicity, and the event will be chaired by Dr Andrea Mohan. 

    You can sign up to the seminar on Eventbrite.

    WHO Less Alcohol Unit: Zero and low-alcohol beverages: real improvement or apparent solution?

    Join the WHO for the upcoming webinar ‘Zero and low-alcohol beverages: real improvement or apparent solution?’ on 23 June 2022 at 13:30 to 15:00 CET (Central European Time).

    This webinar aims to raise awareness about Zero and low-alcohol beverages (NoLos) by untapping their potential and hidden pitfalls, scoping existing policy and regulatory gaps and identifying potential harm and public health measures to address a future increase in NoLos consumption. Register here

    Alcohol packaging as a health communications tool 🎵 Podcast feature 🎵

    A study in April surveyed 1,360 people aged 18-35 to understand exposure and engagement with messaging on alcohol packs, as well as support for product and health information.

    Participants of the study were asked questions about a vodka bottle that either had no warnings on it, small text warnings, or large text or pictorial warnings.

    Two fifths (40%) rarely or never saw health-related information on packs, with almost 75% rarely or never reading or looking closely into this. However, there was strong support for displaying information such as units and ingredients.

    Products with health warnings were more likely to be seen as unappealing and socially unacceptable, and to positively impact alcohol-related cognitions and behaviours. For instance, pictorial warnings were 10 times as likely to positively influence cognitions and behaviours.

    For this month’s podcast we spoke to lead author Daniel Jones, of the University of Stirling’s Institute of Social Marketing and Health, who explained that more research is needed for us to understand how effective product warnings could be in reducing harm:

    “The warnings on products aren’t designed to be effective or engaging. There’s definite potential for better warnings to work and consumers are entitled to know what is in the products they are consuming.

    Real life studies in the UK are required for us to understand the positive impact such warnings could have.”

    WHO marketing report exposes loophole; Assembly agrees to action plan; and industry donations to the WHO Foundation

    A comprehensive new report from the World Health Organization released this month highlighted the increasing use of sophisticated cross-border online marketing techniques for alcohol and the need for more effective regulation.

    The publication – the first of its kind from WHO to look at the full extent of marketing across national borders – stated that such marketing happens “regardless of the social, economic or cultural environment in receiving countries”. It also showed that young people and heavy

    Alcohol Alert - April 2022

    Alcohol Alert - April 2022

    Hello and welcome to the Alcohol Alert, brought to you by The Institute of Alcohol Studies.

    In this edition:

    Will the Health Disparities White Paper help where previous strategies have failed? 🎵 Podcast feature 🎵

    Ban on drinking during football matches may be overturned after nearly 40 years

    ‘Sobriety tags’ to be rolled-out further, following scheme’s “success”

    Councils to receive £85.7 million for drug and alcohol services

    Parents choose a “reluctantly accepting” approach to children drinking

    Protecting public health in trade and investment agreements

    Mandatory calorie labelling on menus comes in and cracking down on gambling ads

    We hope you enjoy our roundup of stories below: please feel free to share. Thank you.

    IAS Blogs

    To read blogs click here.

    Will the Health Disparities White Paper help where previous strategies have failed?

    🎵 Podcast feature 🎵

    Following the February release of the Levelling Up White Paper*, the Government is set to publish a Health Disparities White Paper this Spring, which should set out how the gap in health inequalities will be reduced and how the Levelling Up plan of delivering 5 additional years of healthy life by 2035 will be achieved.

    In our podcast we spoke to Alice Wiseman, Director of Public Health at Gateshead Council, about what could be expected from the White Paper, particularly in terms of alcohol. She said, “It’s really important that it’s a cross-government approach, if we don’t combine action across all wider determinants of health we won’t achieve the aspirations set out in the Levelling Up White Paper.”

    The Health Foundation think tank has highlighted ‘Five tests for tackling health disparities’ within the levelling up agenda, including that there needs to be significant investment to support the proposals – which the Levelling Up White Paper did not include – and how a cross-government approach is crucial to success.

    The Alcohol Health Alliance and IAS will be responding to the Health Disparities White Paper once it is published.

    * A White Paper is a report that sets out proposals for future legislation.

    Ban on drinking during football matches may be overturned after nearly 40 years

    In November 2021, the Fan Led Review of Football Governance was published, which set out recommendations for how to reduce issues within the game, particularly financial issues. On 25 April 2022 the Government announced that it accepts or supports all ten of the strategic recommendations.

    Within one of the recommendations is the suggestion to assess whether the current alcohol rules – established 37 years ago – are fit for purpose. The current rules mean spectators cannot drink alcohol in sight of the pitch in England’s top five leagues. The Review refers to the “perverse outcome” of being promoted from the sixth to the fifth league and it being unaffordable to the club due to not being able to sell as much alcohol.

    The Government says it will consider the case for pilot schemes of the sale of alcohol in sight of the pitch, but that this “must be balanced against wider fan safety considerations”. They cited the “appalling conduct of some fans at the EURO 2020 final between England and Italy at Wembley Stadium” partly being driven by alcohol.

    Chief Constable Mark Roberts of Cheshire Police, previously told Sportsmail that it was “madness” to lift the alcohol ban in stadiums during matches, highlighting a surge in arrests at football matches this season and the violence at Euro 2020.

    There is very little evidence as to how a change in alcohol sales legislation at football stadiums would affect rates of violence. The University of Stirling is currently working on a number of studies on ‘Understanding the role of alcohol consumption in football cultures‘. The first of these was published in December 2021 and concludes that “alcohol regulations in some nations and sports – where restrictions are b

    • 17 min
    Alcohol Alert - March 2022

    Alcohol Alert - March 2022

    Hello and welcome to the Alcohol Alert, brought to you by The Institute of Alcohol Studies.

    In this edition:

    IAS Blogs

    IAS Small Grants Scheme now open for applications

    WHO Europe looks to strengthen implementation of alcohol Action Plan

    Government’s “dismal record” in meeting 2012 Alcohol Strategy initiatives 

    NICE says pregnant women should be asked how much they drink

    Audit Scotland says Scottish Government’s drug and alcohol plans must be clearer

    Lords continue to debate alcohol labelling

    232 million workdays missed in the US due to alcohol use disorder

    Mounting evidence that alcohol increases CVD risk even at low amounts

    Alcohol Toolkit Study: update

    We hope you enjoy our roundup of stories below: please feel free to share. Thank you.

    IAS Blogs

    To read blogs click here.

    IAS Small Grants Scheme now open for applications

    We are inviting applications from researchers – especially early career researchers – to our small grants scheme.

    This scheme will provide funding for innovative research ideas that can help inform public policy debates on how to tackle alcohol harm. Priority will be given to proposals that align with our organisational objectives, as outlined in our Strategy 2020–2023.

    Please send to relevant contacts. More details and how to apply are here.

    WHO Europe looks to strengthen implementation of alcohol Action Plan

    WHO Europe consulted on the draft of a new Framework, which aims to strengthen implementation of the WHO European Action Plan to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol, 2022 – 2025.

    The Framework includes recommendations for Member States on how to implement the Plan and Actions of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, on each of the following six focus areas:

    WHO Europe will now finalise the draft and submit it to the WHO Regional Committee for Europe at its 72nd session in September 2022.

    Government’s “dismal record” in meeting 2012 Alcohol Strategy initiatives 

    On 23 March 2012 the UK Government launched its Alcohol Strategy, with the then Prime Minister David Cameron highlighting the harm caused by alcohol and stating that “We can't go on like this. We have to tackle the scourge of violence caused by binge drinking. And we have to do it now.”

    A decade on, public health actors and politicians are drawing attention to the inertia over the last 10 years, with the majority of the planned initiatives being scrapped or barely implemented.

    Labour MP Dan Carden says that lives lost due to alcohol could have been saved if the Conservatives hadn’t scrapped plans for minimum pricing of alcohol (MUP), one of the key parts of the Strategy’s plan to increase the cost of cheap, high-strength drinks.

    As well as MUP, making health a local licensing objective and banning multi-buy promotions of alcohol were also planned but scrapped by the Home Office in subsequent years.

    In a recent IAS blog, Head of Research Dr Sadie Boniface wrote that these failures don't "just reflect badly on the Government. Putting commercial interests ahead of health in alcohol policies – such as through freezing and cutting alcohol duty in recent years – has cost lives and widened inequalities".

    Both Dan Carden and the Alcohol Health Alliance’s Professor Sir Ian Gilmore highlighted the need for a new Alcohol Strategy, with Mr Carden writing:

    “With record alcohol-specific deaths, rising economic and social harms, and depleted treatment services, people are rightly asking why it has taken so long for the Government to bring forward a plan to tackle alcohol harm.

    “We need to remove barriers to effective action, including the undue influence of corporate lobbyists on policy decisions. Government must finally put public health first. Lives depend on it.”

    In agreement, Prof Sir Ian Gilmore said:

    “The situation has never looked bleaker. We need a strategy with measures to stop the incessant promotion of alcohol, give consumers information on harms, and to properly fund alc

    • 24 min
    Alcohol Alert - February 2022

    Alcohol Alert - February 2022

    Hello and welcome to the Alcohol Alert, brought to you by The Institute of Alcohol Studies.

    In this edition:

    Sugar content in wine bottles ranges from 0 to 15 teaspoons of sugar 🎵 Podcast feature 🎵

    House of Lords debates alcohol labelling and advertising 🎵 Podcast feature 🎵

    European Parliament ‘waters down’ alcohol labelling recommendations

    Alcohol-related hospital stays fall in Scotland during pandemic

    Government inaction on leading risk factors driving ill health

    Alcohol industry lobbies via the World Trade Organization

    Harmful commodity industry messaging creates doubt

    Utah’s lower drink drive limit saves lives

    TFL’s ban on HFSS ads is successful and paves the way for other ad bans

    Man in recovery launches campaign to move alcohol aisle away from checkout

    Alcohol Toolkit Study update

    We hope you enjoy our roundup of stories below: please feel free to share. Thank you.

    IAS Events

    There’s still time to register for our final sustainability event on Wednesday 2 March at 10:00-11:30 GMT, where we will be discussing ‘Alcohol & Human Rights’ with:

    Chair: Professor Leslie London, University of Cape Town

    Olivier van Beemen, Investigative journalist - discussing his book Heineken in Africa

    Dr Sarah Hill, The University of Sydney School of Public Health - presenting on gender and health inequality

    Professor Amandine Garde, University of Liverpool Law School - looking at how human rights litigation can be used as a control policy

    Register here

    IAS Blogs

    To read blogs click here.

    Sugar content in wine bottles ranges from 0 to 15 teaspoons of sugar

    Research by the Alcohol Health Alliance, Alcohol Focus Scotland and Alcohol Change UK has found that bottles of the UK’s most popular wine contain a huge range of sugar, with the highest being enough to reach your recommended daily limit.

    The charity sent 30 bottles of wine (red, white, rosé, fruit, and sparkling wine) to an independent laboratory to test the sugar content. 15 of the bottles tested had 0-1 teaspoons of sugar, and were all red or white wines. Conversely the bottles that were generally weaker in alcohol content – predominantly the rosé, fruit, and sparkling wines – had far higher sugar content, with the most sugary having the equivalent of 15 teaspoons of sugar.

    The Government guidelines recommend no more than 30g of free sugars a day, meaning a drinker can reach that limit with only two medium-sized glasses of wine.

    None of the bottles had nutritional information on labels and calorie content was only on a fifth of the bottles.

    Highlighting the “absurd” situation that means non-alcoholic products have to have more labelling information than alcoholic products, Professor Sir Ian Gilmore said:

    “The Government must publish its planned consultation on alcohol labelling without further delay – which we have been waiting for since 2020. As well as calorie labelling and nutritional information, we need prominent health warnings and the UK Chief Medical Officers’ low-risk weekly drinking guidelines on labels. Studies suggest that this could help reduce alcohol harm by increasing knowledge of the health risks and prompting behaviour change.”

    In this month’s podcast we spoke to Alison Douglas, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, about the study.

    House of Lords debates alcohol labelling and advertising

    On a related note, the House of Lords debated the Health and Care Bill this month, with Baroness Finlay of Llandaff announcing a probing amendment* which would require the Government to publish a report on labelling that would consider certain mandatory labelling requirements, such as the CMO guidelines, cancer warnings, and full ingredients and nutritional information.

    In the same session Baroness Finlay also sought an amendment that would make the Government consult on calling alcohol a ‘less healthy product’ and therefore subject to the same advertising restrictions that HFSS foods wil

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