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Alcohol policy and public health

  • Jason Luty

Alcohol is the most commonly used recreational drug in the world and the third leading cause of preventable death. Alcohol consumption and alcohol problems have increased steadily over the past six decades. Methods likely to reduce alcohol problems (e.g. minimum pricing, restricting licensing hours and increasing the availability of alcohol treatment) tend not to be supported by the drinks industry. Methods favoured by the industry (e.g. public education, industry self-regulation and product warning labelling) are less effective or do not work. The recent history of alcohol policy clearly demonstrates how the financial power of industry can influence governments and undermine effective public health measures, for instance by lobbying, political donations, confusion marketing and creating fnancial vested interests by grants from industry-sponsored 'social aspect organisations'.

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Corresponding author
Dr Jason Luty, Borders Health, Borders Addiction Service, The Range, Tweed Road, Galashiels TD1 3EB, UK. Email:
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• Recognise the overwhelming social, economic and health damage caused by alcohol misuse

• Recognise that measures such as taxation, minimum pricing and reducing availability are some of the most effective means of reducing alcohol problems

• Understand the mechanisms used by the drinks industry and other vested interests that infuence the political process around alcohol regulation



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Alcohol policy and public health

  • Jason Luty
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