Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Governments Must Focus On Price, Availability And Affordability To Tackle Alcohol Misuse, Not Just Education

The Lancet has an editorial following the CMO’s recently published draft guidance.

They argue that education and public health campaigns are unlikely to be effective messures on their own:

Certainly, it is desirable to delay the onset age of drinking. US experience showed that raising the minimum legal drinking age to 21 years (with minimum enforcement) substantially reduced deaths from alcohol related causes. However, education and persuasion are the least effective intervention and so advice by itself in England and Australia will likely make little difference unless it is complemented by policies that focus on price, availability, and affordability at the population level. The UK is often cited as a country that (because of industry influence and the possible political unpopularity of having a drinking age limit) has had an absence of effective alcohol policies, preferring soft measures like education campaigns on issues such as underage drinking, rather than tackling the root of the problem. It is no surprise then that the UK has some of the worst indicators of alcohol related harm in young people in Europe.

Of course we’ve recently seen a recent review of the evidence for the Department of Health come to a slightly different conclusion:

Classroom based education programmes delivered by teachers as part of the school curriculum have a high effect in reducing harmful drinking.

But be that as it may, the problem I see with the editorial is that by looking at the draft guidance out of context from the Youth Alcohol Action Plan (let alone the broader Alcohol Strategy) seems to have allowed the writers to see this as a stand alone strategy rather than part of a wider set of actions that are happening around alcohol use.

Whether the government are going far enough on price and availability of alcohol for young people is a fair question, but the idea that each action that is taken should be seen in issolation from the wider activity doesn’t seem like a helpful way of proceeding.

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Filed under: alcohol, alcohol strategy

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