The 2010 World Health Organization Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol recommends countries adopt evidence-based interventions. A recent review in PLOS One updated, summarized, and appraised the methodological rigor of systematic reviews of selected alcohol control interventions in the Strategy. The authors identified 42 systematic reviews. Most reviews identified only observational studies with no studies from low or lower-middle income (LMIC) countries. Ten reviews were rated as low risk of bias. Methodological deficiencies included publication and language limits, no duplicate assessment, no assessment of study quality, and no integration of quality into result interpretation. We evaluated the following control measures as possibly beneficial: 1) community mobilization; 2) multi-component interventions in the drinking environment; 3) restricting alcohol advertising; 4) restricting on- and off-premise outlet density; 5) police patrols and ignition locks to reduce drink driving; and 6) increased price and taxation including minimum unit pricing. The authors concluded that robust and well-reported research synthesis is deficient in the alcohol control field despite the availability of clear methodological guidance. The lack of primary and synthesis research arising from LMIC should be prioritized globally.
Citation: Siegfried N, Parry C. Do alcohol control policies work? An umbrella review and quality assessment of systematic reviews of alcohol control interventions (2006–2017). PLoS One. 2019 Apr 10;14(4):e0214865.
Growing literature documents news media representation of alcohol-related issues. However, current scholarship has neglected critical political economic frameworks to interpret media coverage of alcohol. The case of Ireland from 2012 to 2017 illustrates the authors’ proposed framework empirically. Four main newspapers’ coverage of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill and related policies are examined. The authors conclude that the media reflect the views of the political and economic establishment on public health measures: there is some support from the medical professions and progressive politicians, but overall, there is a clear reluctance to support strong public health strategies.
Citation: Mercille J. Media Coverage of Alcohol Issues: A Critical Political Economy Framework-A Case Study from Ireland. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(6).
The alcohol industry have attempted to position themselves as collaborators in alcohol policy making as a way of influencing policies away from a focus on the drivers of the harmful use of alcohol (marketing, over availability and affordability). Their framings of alcohol consumption and harms allow them to argue for ineffective measures, largely targeting heavier consumers, and against population wide measures as the latter will affect moderate drinkers. The goal of their public relations organizations is to ‘promote responsible drinking’. However, analysis of data collected in the International Alcohol Control study and used to estimate how much heavier drinking occasions contribute to the alcohol market in five different countries shows the alcohol industry’s reliance on the harmful use of alcohol. In higher income countries heavier drinking occasions make up approximately 50% of sales and in middle income countries it is closer to two-thirds.
Full citation: Casswell S, Callinan S, Chaiyasong S, Cuong PV, Kazantseva E, Bayandorj T,Huckle T, Parker K, Railton R, Wall M. How the alcohol industry relies on harmful use of alcohol and works to protect its profits. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2016;35(6):661-664.