Welcome to Alcohol Action Station | 11 April 2019
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WA Government Commits to Reducing Alcohol Harm

The WA Government has released the final report of the Sustainable Health Review and has committed to reducing harmful effects of alcohol in WA.
In a welcome move, the Government committed to reducing harmful alcohol use in the state by 10% by 2024. The report lists the introduction of a minimum floor price for alcohol as a key priority to reduce harmful alcohol use, noting that “setting a minimum floor price for alcohol is a major opportunity to help reduce alcohol-related harm.” The report outlined the need for action, “Alcohol-related problems are largely preventable and account for significant social, physical, emotional and economic health system costs. As the most prevalent drug used in WA, behind tobacco, alcohol causes the most drug-related harm in the community.”
The Alcohol Programs Team congratulates the WA Government for committing to take action on this important issue that, as the report notes, is “felt at all levels of society”.


Alcohol Action Plan Launched in Perth East Metro

The Cities of Armadale, Canning and Gosnells have come together with a number of other organisations to create a plan to tackle alcohol-related harm in their communities. This is the first plan of its kind in WA to address alcohol-related harm across three metro local government areas through a coordinated response. 
Mayors of the three local governments launched the plan, which aims to address underage drinking and alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and increase the community’s use of alcohol-related support services, at an event on Tuesday.
Over the weekend, Julia Stafford from PHAIWA’s Alcohol Programs Team spoke to 6PR Weekend Breakfast about the plan, and alcohol’s contribution to harm in our community.


Regular Drinking is a Leading Risk Factor of Breast Cancer

A study of 200,000 Australian women has found that alcohol was responsible for 13% of pre-menopausal and 6% of post-menopausal breast cancers. This means that drinking alcohol regularly was the second-largest contributor of breast cancer. The researchers estimate that alcohol will be responsible for 11,600 cases of breast cancer over the next 10 years. Although the current recommendation is not to drink more than 2 standard drinks per day, the study found that risk of breast cancer increased with an average consumption of just 1 standard drink per day.

Daily Dilemmas: Parents' Views on Alcohol and Teenagers

In a new segment by Channel Nine Perth called Daily Dilemmas, Pip O’Connell explores alcohol and the effect it has on teenagers.
In the newest episode that recently aired on Channel Nine, parents of teenagers, Jeff Bullen and Sally Healy join Pip to discuss parenting, alcohol and teenagers. They talk about the pressures of being a parent to a young teenager, impact of social media on young people’s choices, hosting birthday parties, role modelling, and education programs about the risks of drinking.


Fewer Young People are Drinking, But Many Still Drinking at Harmful Levels

Fewer Australian secondary students are drinking alcohol, but many are still drinking at levels considered risky even for adults, finds new research. The Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey (ASSAD) researchers interviewed around 20,000 students aged 12-17 years in 2017 and found:

  • 66% reported ever drinking alcohol in 2017; this is a slight reduction from 68% in 2014 who reported ever drinking alcohol
  • 15% reported drinking in the past week, and this has been steady since 2011
  • Around 65% of all students surveyed who had ever drunk alcohol reported drinking at levels considered risky for adults on at least one occasion in their lifetime
  • More than a third (38%) of current drinkers reported that they intended to get drunk most or every time they drank
  • Among current drinkers, males drank an average of 8 standard drinks while females drank an average of 5 standard drinks in the past week
  • 28% of current drinkers reported doing something while drinking that they later regretted, and 59% of current drinkers reported at least one negative outcome after drinking in the past year. Most common negative events after drinking included vomiting, trying a cigarette or drugs, and having an argument

While some of the findings of the report are encouraging, the finding that many young people are still drinking at risky levels and experiencing harm from alcohol highlights that we must not get complacent in our efforts to address drinking among young people.


Instagram Influencers Under the Influence of the Alcohol Industry

New research by VicHealth has revealed that three-quarters of Australia’s top 70 Instagram influencers featured alcoholic drinks in their posts, yet only a quarter fully disclosed when they had been paid by alcohol brands.
VicHealth Acting CEO Dr Lyn Roberts said it was time to call last drinks on the industry’s underhanded use of social media. “Our research shows the alcohol industry is employing tactics straight out of the playbook of Big Tobacco, using high profile influencers to make their products appear glamorous and sophisticated to young people,” Dr Roberts said.
In an article in The Guardian, Julia Stafford from PHAIWA’s Alcohol Programs Team said that influencers, social media platforms and alcohol brands should not regulate themselves. “Commercial and free-to-air television and outdoor ads are still so poorly regulated and here we are now talking about social media, which is a part of everyday life, and governments are playing catch-up to deal with it,” she said.


National Health Survey Highlights WA Drinking Patterns

New research from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has asked Australians about their health and risk factors contributing to their health, including drinking.
Results for West Australian adults show that 1 in 5 drank more than 2 standard drinks per day on average, exceeding the guideline to limit lifetime harm from alcohol. WA had a higher rate of adults who exceeded this guideline compared with Australia (19% compared to 16%).
2 in 5 WA adults drank more than four standard drinks on one occasion in the past year, exceeding the low risk drinking guideline to prevent harm from alcohol on a single occasion.


New Research on Alcohol Advertising in Sport

A recent paper published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization by Robin Ireland and colleagues has highlighted concern about advertising of alcohol and unhealthy foods during sporting events, and has encouraged “research of the relationships between sport and its commercial sponsors, notably companies producing alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages, and food high in fat, salt and sugar.”
Recent research from Australia has done just that, with the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education looking into the alcohol companies that are sponsoring our national sports teams. FARE found that some of the world’s largest foreign-owned alcohol companies are responsible for the majority of alcohol advertising deals in the AFL, AFLW and the NRL. Across these leagues, just four companies are responsible for 60% of the instances of commercial partnerships between alcohol brands and clubs. CUB was found to be the worst offender, with 19 advertising deals across AFL and NRL.
In light of the recommendation by Mr Ireland and colleagues that “sports industry embrace a socially-responsible approach to commercial sponsorship and advertising” and FARE’s new research, it’s time that we call on our sports clubs to End Alcohol Advertising in Sport in Australia. If you agree, show your support for the campaign at the link below.

Moderate Drinking Linked to Stroke Risk

In further proof that even moderate levels of drinking can be harmful, new research published in the journal Lancet shows that drinking, even in moderation, can increase the risk of having a stroke. There are no protective effects of moderate drinking against stroke.
Teams from Oxford University, Peking University, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and the Peking Union Medical College followed over 500,000 people from China for a period of 10 years and monitored them for cardiovascular disease.
Researchers found that among men, for every additional 280g of alcohol consumed per week, the total stroke risk was raised by 38%. Among the men in the study, alcohol was responsible for about 8% of strokes and 16% of intracerebral haemorrhages.
“Stroke is a major cause of death and disability,” argued Prof Liming Li, a study co-author, who added, “This large, collaborative study has shown that stroke rates are increased by alcohol. This should help inform personal choices and public health strategies.”


How Many Cigarettes are in a Bottle of Wine?

New research from the UK estimated the risk of cancer associated with drinking moderate levels of alcohol, and compared this to the risk of cancer associated with smoking.
Study author Dr Theresa Hyde explained the results, “We aimed to answer the question: Purely in terms of cancer risk – that is, looking at cancer in isolation from other harms – how many cigarettes are there in a bottle of wine? Our findings suggest that the ‘cigarette equivalent’ of a bottle of wine is five cigarettes for men and ten for women per week.”
The study aims to draw attention to the fact that just moderate levels of drinking, e.g. one bottle of wine per week, can put people at risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer. Dr Hyde said, “It is well established that heavy drinking is linked to cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, gullet, bowel, liver and breast. Yet, in contrast to smoking, this is not widely understood by the public. We hope that by using cigarettes as the comparator we could communicate this message more effectively to help individuals make more informed lifestyle choices.”

Alcohol in the news

NRL and AFL clubs called out for alcohol advertising deals
ABC, 10 April 2019
There are renewed calls for alcohol advertising bans as a report tallies the deals done by Australia’s most popular sporting teams.
No cheers for Instagram’s ‘alcohol influencers’
The New Daily, 9 April 2019
Popular digital influencers making grog look cool online should come clean about the companies paying them, according to health experts.
Mick Malthouse supports push to reform alcohol advertising
The Age, 7 April 2019
Mick Malthouse has thrown his weight behind a campaign to eliminate alcohol advertising during children’s television viewing hours.
Cutting cancer costs is a worthy policy, but we need to try to prevent it too
The Conversation, 7 April 2019
Around one-third of all cancers are preventable by not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, eating healthy food, being physically active, minimising alcohol consumption, and avoiding excessive sun exposure.
Here’s how long alcohol-induced brain damage persists after drinking
Inverse, 3 April 2019
Importantly, scientists recently discovered that alcohol detrimentally affects white matter, even when a person has quit drinking, reporting their news on Tuesday in JAMA Psychiatry.
Calls for federal budget to address drug and alcohol crisis
Sydney Morning Herald, 31 March 2019
A coalition of public health and medical groups has called on the Federal Government to begin the development of a national strategic plan for the alcohol and other drug treatment system.
French must cut back on drinking alcohol, say health officials
Euro News, 28 March 2019
French people are being urged to cut back on their alcohol consumption by a new government campaign but for many in the famously wine-loving country, two glasses a day barely keeps the doctor away. 
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