In this issue: Australian alcohol deaths accelerate; Scotland plans minimum price adjustment; UK labelling relaxation; US costs to climb; TV shots off target; Dutch wariness rises
Australian alcohol deaths up 30% since pandemic
The number of alcohol-induced deaths in Australia increased to around 30% above pre-pandemic levels in 2022. They rose 11% year on year, on top of a 7% rise in 2021 and around 8% in 2020.
They are at their highest level for over a decade, a pattern seen in other anglophone countries, which are among the most scrupulous in reporting figures.
“It is absolutely devastating to see the ways that alcoholic products cause so much harm to so many families and communities across Australia. Every person that dies because of alcohol is a life cut tragically short…,” said Caterina Giorgi of alcohol harm NGO FARE Australia.
America’s alcohol death rates were up 31% on pre-pandemic levels in 2022, falling back from 38% above in 2021. Canada’s alcohol deaths were up a fifth during the pandemic, as were the UK’s. Comment/sources
Scotland plans minimum price adjustment
The Scottish Government published plans to increase the minimum unit price of alcohol from 50p to 65p to catch up with inflation since its introduction in 2018.
A study released in parallel said an increase to 60p would reduce the number of harmful drinkers by well over 26,000, while removing the minimum price would increase their number by about the same.
The industry response has so far been muted, focussing on the fact the increase would mean the price of some budget drinks goes up. Comment/sources
UK labelling relaxation
Drinks containing up to 0.5% alcohol could be labelled as “alcohol free” in the UK, as in Australia, Germany, New Zealand and the US. Some wonder if the rule may also allow them to be used to bypass alcohol advertising rules as 0.0 brews now do. Comment/sources
US costs to climb
The annual cost of alcoholic liver disease is expected to more than double to $66bn in the US by 2040. It is projected to cost a total $880bn between now and 2040, $355bn in direct healthcare-related costs, and $525bn in lost labour and economic consumption. Comment/sources
Shots off target
Broadcasters providing coverage of sporting events should avoid ‘problematic’ shots of fans drinking alcohol, a team of researchers said Thursday. The study’s observations were based on watching the Women’s World Cup. Comment/source
Dutch wariness rises
Some 40% of the 10- 17-year-old in the Netherlands said alcohol was unhealthy, compared with 27% of adults. Those saying alcohol drinking was fun rose from 13% among 10-11-year-olds to over half of those aged 16 and 17. Comment/sources
US insurance denial down
18 US states still have laws allowing companies to deny insurance payments for treatment to people inebriated with alcohol when they were injured, down from 37 in 2004. The number of states explicitly banning the practice increased from three to 15. Comment/sources