Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Tackling Alcohol Together - the evidence base for a UK Alcohol Policy
'Tackling Alcohol Together' is written by a group convened by the Society for the Study of Addictions, targeted towards the UK's proposed 'National Alcohol Strategy'.

The book opens with a promising statement 'the facts are clear, lives can be saved, injuries prevented. quality of life can be improved while still enjoying sensible drinking'. The evidence collated is not slanted towards this approach however, and the goal of the book is eventually revealed: 'the aim is not simply to reduce the number of heavy drinkers in the UK, but to reduce levels in the large number of people who would be called moderate drinkers'.

Statistics appear to be well researched, but interpretation of the material is sadly unbalanced.Evidence supporting the case for moderate drinking as enhancing life, sociability and health is dismissed as 'theory' or 'statistical artefact' and 'unguarded claims that alcohol is good for the heart can be misleading.. there is no threshold beneath which drinking is risk free'. Yet the publication's own data shows that only at 30g of alcohol intake a day is the relative risk of mortality above that of abstainers.

Similar to the WHO recommendations, the book suggests an increase in tax to fund alcohol 'control policies', and believes a rise in prices will deter 'at risk' young drinkers. Similarly media inter-pretations of alcohol as positive and social should be deterred, and although it is admitted that advertising does not increase consumption, adverts should not link 'drinking and glamour'.

Finally the book recommends a reduction in licensed outlets and purchasing times.The study fails to note that consumption has held steady in the UK at 7 litres per capita since 1977 inspite of the increased number of outlets selling alcohol or that drink-drive statistics and alcohol related road accidents have fallen consistently.

It seems that the book had a firm base of conclusions at the outset and has sought to justify them by producing an 'evidence base'. The interpretation of the evidence base fails to offer balanced or justifiable proposals.

Tackling alcohol Together, published by Free Association Books 57 Warren Street London WIP 5PA ISBN 1853434574

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