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Analysis and Comment (56)

Measures to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence will take time to really have an effect. Measures to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence will take time to really have an effect. ABC TV

Dead Drunk: alcohol, violence and a night in Kings Cross

Two months after the death of 18-year-old Sydney man Daniel Christie, who was punched to the ground on New Year’s Eve, New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell introduced a set of measures aimed at improving…
Your friendly neighbourhood liquor store down Toronto way. Your friendly neighbourhood liquor store down Toronto way. Joseph Morris

Minimum alcohol pricing: Canada’s accidental public health strategy

I have watched with fascination as successive UK and European governments have pledged to make cheap alcohol a thing of the past by introducing minimum unit pricing or MUP. David Cameron announced his…
Tensions are mounting over minimum pricing obstruction. Tensions are mounting over minimum pricing obstruction. Stupid Pony

Why I’m fighting alcohol industry obstruction of minimum pricing

Exactly a year after minimum alcohol pricing was supposed to have been introduced in Scotland, this week a group of public health professionals including myself registered a protest against the fact that…
Bottoms up. Bottoms up. EPA

Going to the pub could solve our drinking problem

Rarely a day passes without another horror story about the UK’s drinking problem: alcohol-related violence, debauchery in city centres, record demand on A&E resources, a liver disease epidemic and…
Neither communities nor governments can tackle alcohol problems alone. Neither communities nor governments can tackle alcohol problems alone. AndyCunningham/Flickr

All in it together: why stopping alcohol’s harms needs everyone

Attempts by communities to reduce binge drinking and the violence that often accompanies it are unlikely to succeed without a supportive legislative framework, according to research my colleagues and I…
Earlier closing times for pubs and bars is the key to preventing alcohol-fuelled assaults. Earlier closing times for pubs and bars is the key to preventing alcohol-fuelled assaults. André Hofmeister/Flickr

Earlier pub closing times key to reducing alcohol-fuelled assaults

Earlier pub closing times have a large impact on curbing alcohol-fuelled violence, according to research my colleagues and I have published today in the international peer-reviewed journal Drug & Alcohol…
A screen shot of the web page dedicated to DrinkWise’s How to Drink Properly ad campaign. A screen shot of the web page dedicated to DrinkWise’s How to Drink Properly ad campaign.

DrinkWise’s cynical campaign shouldn’t fool anyone

Alcohol industry-funded organisation DrinkWise has released a new advertising campaign titled Drinking – Do it properly that will supposedly reduce the harmful effects of binge drinking among young Australians…
What’s fair about four cans for £3.50? What’s fair about four cans for £3.50? David Cheskin/PA

Minimum pricing for alcohol helps poorer, heavy drinkers

When the UK Government abandoned its proposal to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol in July 2013, it argued there was a lack of concrete evidence that the policy would reduce the harm caused by…
Reduce your cancer risk by reducing your alcohol consumption. Reduce your cancer risk by reducing your alcohol consumption. V31S70/Flickr

Health Check: does alcohol cause cancer?

Alcohol and cancer is a topic that arouses a lot of controversy: many Australians like the odd drink but don’t want to make the connection to cancer, the world’s biggest killer. The World Health Organisation’s…
Slow motion version. Slow motion version. Sevitz

#neknomination: the internet has changed drinking games

Neknomination seems to have begun as a UK university phenomenon in 2012, but more recently burst into wider public consciousness in Australia, then South Africa and Canada. It has also been tragically…
Urban areas have historically been the winners in terms of heavy drinking but the picture has changes. Urban areas have historically been the winners in terms of heavy drinking but the picture has changes. Brian/Flickr

We drink in the town and country, but who drinks more?

So you’re back from up the country, Mister Lawson, where you went, And you’re cursing all the business in a bitter discontent; Well, we grieve to disappoint you, and it makes us sad to hear, That it wasn’t…
Most young people expect to engage in a number of risky activities at schoolies. Most young people expect to engage in a number of risky activities at schoolies. Image from shutterstock.com

Sex, drugs and alcohol: what really goes on at schoolies?

After finishing year 12, more than 50,000 young Australians attend schoolies celebrations, with most ending up on the Gold Coast. Other schoolies (or “leavers”, as they’re known in Western Australia) head…
How do we deal with people who use a night out as an excuse for a fight? How do we deal with people who use a night out as an excuse for a fight? Flickr/Anamorphic Mike

Itching for a fight: the motives behind alcohol-fuelled violence

This weekend, yet another violent assault has reminded us of the need to curb alcohol-related violence in public spaces. For most students, schoolies week means a trip away from home to celebrate the end…
Schoolies are built on huge demand – and high expectations. Schoolies are built on huge demand – and high expectations. AAP/Dean Saffron

Schoolies, toolies and foolies – in the market for a rite of passage

It’s that time of year again: schoolies – that institution where school leavers (schoolies) disappear for a couple of weeks to a beachside resort to engage in all types of shenanigans, both legal and otherwise…
Media commentators have linked alcohol use with sexual assault. Media commentators have linked alcohol use with sexual assault. FLICKR/Monkey Boy42

Mia Freedman et al are wrong: being drunk doesn’t cause rape

Controversy over rape, alcohol consumption, and responsibility reignited last month when US columnist Emily Yoffe penned an article provocatively titled College women: stop getting drunk. But the link…
Drinkers who consume energy drinks record higher breath alcohol concentrations than those who don’t. Drinkers who consume energy drinks record higher breath alcohol concentrations than those who don’t. Flickr/thewhitestdogalive

Think alcohol and energy drinks are nothing to worry about? Think again

Heavy drinkers are mixing alcohol with energy drinks to enable them to drink longer and get more drunk. While the trend is concerning many public health researchers – because the risks remain unknown – others…
The Australian government appears to be contemplating signing a version of the agreement that would restrict its power to apply strong health warnings to alcohol products. The Australian government appears to be contemplating signing a version of the agreement that would restrict its power to apply strong health warnings to alcohol products. camknows/Flickr

Trans-Pacific Partnership rules could block alcohol warnings

New rules for alcohol labelling were discussed in Malaysia earlier this week by countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The proposed rules could stymie the introduction of effective health…
To assess the risk of a schizophrenic attack, we try to work out the risk of a rare event in a bunch of people with a mixed bag of symptoms. To assess the risk of a schizophrenic attack, we try to work out the risk of a rare event in a bunch of people with a mixed bag of symptoms. Flickr/daniellehelm

Are you really at risk of attack by someone with schizophrenia?

A violent attack by someone who is mentally ill quickly grabs the headlines. And it’s usually implied that mental illnesses are a preventable cause of violent crime. Tackle that and we can all sleep safer…
Young people are particularly vulnerable to the effects of heavy drinking. Young people are particularly vulnerable to the effects of heavy drinking. Image from shutterstock.com

Strong evidence for raising drinking age but little support

A group of Australian doctors and academics has called on the Commonwealth government today to raise the legal drinking age to 21, in order to reduce the harms associated with early heavy drinking. According…
Wine is increasingly becoming the drink of choice for Australians. Wine is increasingly becoming the drink of choice for Australians. isante_magazine

The rise of Australia as a wine nation

Think of alcohol in Australian life and you probably think of beer: a “hard-earned thirst” and all that. Yet our national drinking taste is undergoing a dramatic change. Not only are we drinking less overall…
Alcohol: your arms can carry more than your liver can handle. Alcohol: your arms can carry more than your liver can handle. PA/David Cheskin

Alcohol act dropped sales, now it’s time for minimum unit pricing

The evidence is in. Sales of alcohol in Scotland have decreased since the 2010 Alcohol Act was introduced. The act restricted the display and promotion of alcohol to a single area of any store. It banned…
‘Light’ wines are potentially big business if they can be successfully marketed to the diet-conscious consumer. ‘Light’ wines are potentially big business if they can be successfully marketed to the diet-conscious consumer. Steve Petric

‘Light’ wine: good for your waistline or just producers' bottom line?

Dieters can now have their wine and drink it, guilt-free and minus the hangover. That’s the promise of so-called “light” or low-alcohol, low-calorie wines. But these wines are not considerably lighter…
ANZAC Day once was a day to commemorate the sacrifices made by Australian soliders in war - but is it now being hijacked by companies with a profit motive? ANZAC Day once was a day to commemorate the sacrifices made by Australian soliders in war - but is it now being hijacked by companies with a profit motive? Australian War Memorial

Should we be consuming more than just patriotism on national days?

Australian brands are increasingly looking to exploit national holidays like ANZAC Day. Given soft retail conditions, such efforts are understandable. But is it welcome? Sure, there is no law against associating…
A smart card system could help consumers keep track of their alcohol consumption – and help them drink less. A smart card system could help consumers keep track of their alcohol consumption – and help them drink less. Flickr/Mr Kael

Tap and go: smart cards could change the culture of booze

We all know that too much booze is bad for our health. Alcohol has been linked to 60 different medical conditions and almost 3,500 deaths a year in Australia, mostly from long-term alcohol abuse, accidents…
Booze won’t kill your brain cells but it can still harm your brain. Booze won’t kill your brain cells but it can still harm your brain. Image from shutterstock.com

Monday’s medical myth: alcohol kills brain cells

Do you ever wake up with a raging hangover and picture the row of brain cells that you suspect have have started to decay? Or wonder whether that final glass of wine was too much for those tiny cells…
Efforts to reduce young people’s reliance on alcohol face a huge obstacle in the form of alcohol advertising. Efforts to reduce young people’s reliance on alcohol face a huge obstacle in the form of alcohol advertising. Lala Roe

Advertising’s role in how young people interact with alcohol

The most recent guidelines on appropriate alcohol consumption from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) are a hard sell to a hard-drinking public. And this is despite growing concerns…
Alcohol-related violence is rising while per capita consumption is falling. Alcohol-related violence is rising while per capita consumption is falling. Kirti Poddar

Alcohol-fuelled violence on the rise despite falling consumption

Generally speaking, if a population drinks more, then there are more heavy drinkers and more harm from alcohol (similarly if a population drinks less, there will be less harm). But this link now appears…
In decisions about alcohol policy, the effects on others, and not just on the drinker, need to be taken into account. In decisions about alcohol policy, the effects on others, and not just on the drinker, need to be taken into account. Gaby Av

My drinking, your problem: alcohol hurts non-drinkers too

Drinking a lot of alcohol is bad for the drinker’s health, both in the short and in the long run. But drinking often affects others adversely, too. This is well recognised for drink driving, and once the…
The increasing liberalisation of alcohol normalises drinking and consumption becomes enmeshed in the daily fabric of life. The increasing liberalisation of alcohol normalises drinking and consumption becomes enmeshed in the daily fabric of life. Image from shutterstock.com

Social acceptance of alcohol allows us to ignore its harms

Most of us forget that alcohol is a drug so when asked to name drug-related problems, we tend to think of illegal drugs such as cannabis or heroin. But most of us drink, and drinking is an accompaniment…
Wine became popular in Australia in the 1960s, which led to the invention of the wine cask. Wine became popular in Australia in the 1960s, which led to the invention of the wine cask. Flickr/Johnsyweb

A brief history of alcohol consumption in Australia

Although most Australians would probably say we’ve always been a heavy-drinking nation, the consumption of alcohol has followed a roller coaster curve since European invasion. Alcohol consumption in Australia…
A sign outside an Aboriginal community near Darwin, noting the ban on consuming alcohol in the area. A sign outside an Aboriginal community near Darwin, noting the ban on consuming alcohol in the area. AAP/Xavier La Canna

New singers, old songs: alcohol bans in Aboriginal communities

The newly elected conservative governments in Queensland and the Northern Territory have opened the way to relaxing laws restricting access to alcohol in Aboriginal communities. In Queensland, a number…
Parents' drinking patterns impact on how young people think about and consume alcohol. Parents' drinking patterns impact on how young people think about and consume alcohol. Kuorui

Mirror ball, mirror ball, in the school hall: are parents allowed any booze at all?

The question of whether adults should be allowed to drink alcohol at school discos, fetes and sports games was thrust into the spotlight this week after the Australian Drug Foundation urged education departments…
The aim of drink-driving reform is not to reduce drinking, but to disconnect drinking from driving. The aim of drink-driving reform is not to reduce drinking, but to disconnect drinking from driving. Flickr/M a r k

Why it’s time to lower Australia’s blood alcohol driving limit

Around one quarter of deaths on Australia’s roads involve drink-driving. Over a decade, this amounts to over 3,500 deaths, as well as many thousands of serious injuries. While the most common death in…
High profile campaigns that don’t reduce consumption or profits are favoured by industry. High profile campaigns that don’t reduce consumption or profits are favoured by industry. Alexandre Chang

Who should be educating us about alcohol-related violence?

In a series of recent papers, our research team has documented the impact of community interventions at reducing alcohol-related harm in the Geelong region in Victoria. What we found was that despite the…
The Advertising Standards Bureau has ruled that comments and photos on the Facebook pages of VB and Smirnoff have breached the industry’s code of ethics. The Advertising Standards Bureau has ruled that comments and photos on the Facebook pages of VB and Smirnoff have breached the industry’s code of ethics. louisa_catlover

Ruling on alcohol brands' Facebook sites will shake up social media marketing

Recently, the advertising regulator has made what have been called “landmark decisions” relating to the use of Facebook by two prominent alcohol brands. Two weeks ago, the Advertising Standards Bureau…
The expense of defending defamation actions deters many public health researchers from speaking out. The expense of defending defamation actions deters many public health researchers from speaking out. Emilio Kuffer

Protect researchers from the perils of public health advocacy

Public health advocates who criticise industries for promoting harmful forms of consumption – the alcohol, food, pharmaceutical, tobacco and gambling industries – increasingly find themselves facing legal…
Friends of the teenager who has been accused of killing Thomas Kelly leave court last week. Friends of the teenager who has been accused of killing Thomas Kelly leave court last week. AAP/Paul Miller

Blame it on the booze: mass drinking drives Sydney’s violence

The recent unprovoked killing of a young reveller named Thomas Kelly by a male stranger in Sydney’s Kings Cross has set off extensive community and political debate about the violence that is associated…
Coke has apparently shared the Olympic ideals since 1928. Coke has apparently shared the Olympic ideals since 1928. Michael Francis McCarthy

Olympics sponsorship: supporting sport or funding fat?

What does the Olympics stand for: is it the inspiration for a healthier, sportier community? Or is it just another way to sell junk food and booze to an ever-fatter, ever-drunker population of couch potatoes…
Emerging evidence suggests early parental supply of alcohol is associated with increased risks. Emerging evidence suggests early parental supply of alcohol is associated with increased risks. AdamCohn

How to set teens up for a healthy relationship with alcohol

Young Australians are exposed to a range of risks from alcohol, both from drinking themselves and other people’s use. According to the most recent National Drug Strategy Household Survey: A third of 14…
The combination of energy drinks and alcohol is a potent mix. The combination of energy drinks and alcohol is a potent mix. ryawesome/Flickr

Energy drink binge leaves teens with more than a hangover

Manufacturers of energy drinks are coming under pressure from governments and regulatory bodies following concerns about the health impacts of their products on teenagers and other at-risk groups. Typically…
The risk of cancer from air pollution is a fraction of the hazard posed by smoking. The risk of cancer from air pollution is a fraction of the hazard posed by smoking. EPA/Alex Hofford

Unproven cancer risks diverting focus from real cause: lifestyle

The fixation on potentially cancer-causing chemicals in the air, food and consumer products is diverting attention from the real risks, according to a review of global evidence by an Australian cancer…
You can mix “the grape and the grain” and avoid a hangover if you drink in moderation. You can mix “the grape and the grain” and avoid a hangover if you drink in moderation. Erwyn van der Meer

Monday’s medical myth: mixing drinks causes hangovers

As a general practitioner, I hear a lot of colourful advice from my patients about what they believe constitutes “safe” drinking and how to avoid a nasty hangover. Some of the more pithy sayings – “beer…
Few antibiotics preclude drinking alcohol but it’s a bad idea to get drunk when you have an infection. Few antibiotics preclude drinking alcohol but it’s a bad idea to get drunk when you have an infection. DeusXFlorida

Monday’s medical myth: you can’t mix antibiotics with alcohol

Staying off alcohol when taking antibiotics has been hallowed advice from GPs, pharmacists and well-meaning relatives for decades. It’s difficult to work out exactly where the advice orginated, but Karl…
The real cost of the alcohol price war is the damage heavy drinking does to public health and the social fabric. The real cost of the alcohol price war is the damage heavy drinking does to public health and the social fabric. Rick Audet

Health the casualty of Coles and Woolies alcohol price war

In recent days, Woolworths and Coles have put out a flurry of media releases, each staking a claim to being the cheapest place to buy alcohol this summer. Coles have “declared war” on liquor prices and…
Focussing on ‘harmful’ alcohol use means attention is diverted from reducing alcohol intake across the population. Focussing on ‘harmful’ alcohol use means attention is diverted from reducing alcohol intake across the population. Visit Greenwich

Last drinks: regulating alcohol to prevent non-communicable diseases

Non-communicable diseases – Paula O'Brien looks at the what The Lancet NCD Action Group and the NCD Alliance name as one of the priority interventions for mitigating the impact of NCDs: reduction in hazardous…
Alcohol is currently exempt from the labelling requirements that all other products we eat and drink have to follow. Alcohol is currently exempt from the labelling requirements that all other products we eat and drink have to follow. Klearchos Kapoutsis

Cheers to health warning labels for alcoholic drinks

Despite known risks of drinking, health and safety warning labels have been noticeably absent from alcoholic beverages in Australia. But that might be about to change, with the Government today seeking…
Lack of discussion of alcohol’s harm to others contributes to how little it is regulated. Lack of discussion of alcohol’s harm to others contributes to how little it is regulated. AAP

Breaking the booze cycle: why we need higher alcohol taxes

A coalition of representatives from leading national health bodies are briefing parliamentarians today, calling for alcohol pricing to be placed on the agenda of the upcoming Federal Tax Forum in October…
Women should be allowed to have fun, without the media judging them. Women should be allowed to have fun, without the media judging them. AAP/Jack Tran

The wilding of women: why the media should ease up on girls

Wilding, a word seldom used outside of sociology, describes compounded acts of immorality. Of teenagers, apparently, running amok. In packs usually, with rage and ribaldry in their eyes. I was thinking…
More data on the effects of alcohol and energy drinks is needed to inform policy. More data on the effects of alcohol and energy drinks is needed to inform policy. loop oh/Flickr

Alcohol and energy drinks: too early to make bleary-eyed policy calls

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has called for a ban on the sale of pre-packaged alcoholic energy drinks based on recent research, echoing a similar call for bottle shops to stop selling pre-packaged…
A full English breakfast just doesn’t cut it. A full English breakfast just doesn’t cut it. Iban

Monday’s medical myth: you can cure a hangover

Piping hot cups of coffee. A fat laden fried breakfast. Going for a run. Or maybe just going back to bed. There are plenty of claims about how you can cure a hangover. So, what’s the reality? If you’ve…
The Cancer Council’s alcohol abstinence message isn’t helpful. The Cancer Council’s alcohol abstinence message isn’t helpful. flickr/MrTinDC

Ignore the scaremongers – a drink (or two) is alright

The marketing of public health messages can bear some disturbing similarities to the way the tobacco, alcohol and food industries go about promoting their products. Recent suggestions by the Cancer Council…
Who would actually manage to get a prescription for alcohol from their doctor? Who would actually manage to get a prescription for alcohol from their doctor? AAP

What if you had to get a script from your doctor to get a (alcoholic) drink?

A recent application to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) requested alcohol be rescheduled as a prohibited substance “unfit for human consumption”. The application quickly got the thumbs down…

Research and News (12)

Research Briefs (37)

Alocohol linked to feeling immature

People who drink heavily into their 30s feel immature for their age, research has found. The researchers from the University…

Buzz kills

No amount of alcohol seems to be safe for driving, according to a University of California, San Diego study. The study found…