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