Welcome to Alcohol Action Station e-newsletter edition #45
Issue no. 45
In this Issue
  • Welcome to Alcohol Action Station
  • Did you know?
  • Health First: An Evidence-Based Alcohol Strategy For The UK
  • Action Station: Writing Letters to the Editor
  • Call for Ban on Alcohol Advertising During Sports on TV
  • New U.S. Research: Alcohol Brands Underage Drinkers Prefer
  • Alcohol Advertising Review Board: Submit a Complaint
  • The Facts

Welcome to Alcohol Action Station

Alcohol and related harms were prominent issues in the media in the lead up to the state election.

The convenors of the WA Alcohol and Youth Action Coalition, Professors Fiona Stanley and Mike Daube, wrote to party leaders to call for a comprehensive program aimed at reducing the impact of alcohol on our community, and particularly to address worrying trends in alcohol use among young people, and a growing culture of drinking to get drunk. Joining the professors in their public call to address alcohol related harm in Australia were emergency department doctor David Mountain and Public Schools Association president Alec O’Connell.

Dr Mountain warned that hazardous drinking is not just a problem among disadvantaged people, with young people from well-off suburbs over represented in emergency departments. Almost half of all injuries from assaults and domestic violence treated by Royal Perth Hospital’s State trauma service last year were linked to alcohol. Mr O’Connell called for a comprehensive approach to address alcohol related harm.
The group of experts called for access to alcohol to be curbed, including through consideration of the density of alcohol outlets and restricted licensed venue trading hours, as part of changes to WA liquor laws.
What can you do? If you would like to have your say on alcohol issues featured in the media, consider writing a letter to the Editor of your local or state newspaper expressing your concern and support for action.
For tips on writing letters to the Editor, see the article below titled Action Station: Writing Letters to the Editor.
Want to read more?
A media archive is kept on the McCusker Centre website.
Until next time,
Danica Keric, McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth
Elecia Wheat, Injury Control Council of WA

did you know?

In WA, along with SA and the ACT, there are no laws regulating the supply of alcohol to those under 18 in private settings.
Source: Roche et al, Alcohol and young people: What the legislation says about access and secondary supply. Drug and Alcohol Review (March 2013).

Encourage others to take action on alcohol. Forward this to a friend.
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Health First: An Evidence-Based Alcohol Strategy For The UK

A new report has been released in the UK by independent experts outlining a series of “no-nonsense recommendations” to “create a safer, healthier and happier world where the harm caused by alcohol is minimised”.Alcohol_Strategy_UK
The report, Health First: an evidence-based alcohol strategy for the UK aims to seriously reduce harm from alcohol in the UK.
Recommendations of the strategy include:
  • Introduce a minimum price of at least 50p [75c] per unit of alcohol.
  • Evidence-based health warnings should take up at least one third of every alcohol product label.
  • The sale of alcohol in shops should be restricted to specific times and designated areas. No alcohol promotion should occur outside these areas.
  • Introduce a volumetric tax system - the rate of tax on alcohol products should increase with product strength. This would provide an incentive to develop and sell lower strength products.
  • Liquor licensing laws should be comprehensively reviewed to empower authorities to control the availability of alcohol.
  • Prohibit all alcohol advertising and sponsorship. In the short term, alcohol advertising should only be permitted in newspapers and other adult press. Its content should be limited to factual information about brand, provenance and product strength.
  • An independent body should be established to regulate alcohol promotion in the interest of public health and community safety.
To coincide with the release of the strategy, a British Medical Journal editorial on alcohol marketing by Professor Gerard Hastings and Dr Nick Sheron cited new research that shows British children are more exposed to alcohol promotion than adults.

Key findings:
  • 10-15 year olds in the UK see 10% more alcohol advertising on TV than their parents
  • 10-15 year olds see 50% more advertising of alcopops on TV than their parents
The authors concluded that the increased exposure of young people to alcohol advertising is due to deliberate targeting by the industry, particularly with alcopops advertising. Internal industry documents reveal that young people 18 years and over are being targeted; however, the authors note that “there is great danger that such neatly targeted campaigns will spill over into younger groups”. 
What about Australia?
Many of Health First’s recommendations are consistent with the policy areas being called for by health experts in Australia. Professor Mike Daube, Director of the McCusker Centre, commented on the strategy in The Age, “this is a tremendously important, evidence-based report” and virtually every issue raised by the report applied to Australia.
Want more information?
What do you think of the strategy? Let us know.

Action Station: Writing Letters to the Editor

Alcohol issues regularly feature in the media. Have you ever wanted to respond or have your say?Letters_to_the_editor
Writing a letter to the Editor can be great way of drawing attention to an issue. The letters page is often one of the most well-read pages of the newspaper and can be a guide to community opinion on current issues. That makes it a great way to show your concern about harm from alcohol.
Newspapers receive more letters than they can publish. Here are some tips to give your letter the best chance of being published:
1.       Respond quickly
Generally you’ll be responding to a current issue so it’s important to send your letter in as soon as you can. If you are responding to a specific article or letter, try to send your letter the same day or the following day.
2.       Be brief
Keep it short and to the point.
3.       Be specific
State your point as briefly and clearly as you can right up the front. You don’t want the main point of your letter to get lost. Focus on only one issue in a letter and write in your own words.
4.       Refer to the news article or previous letter which prompted your letter
If you are writing in response to a specific article or letter, identify it by including the headline, date and page number in your letter.
5.       Read other letters to the editor
This will give you an idea of the style and length of letters the editors have previously chosen.
6.       Include your contact details
Include your name, address and a telephone number so the newspaper can contact you if necessary. Your name and suburb will generally be published alongside your letter. If you are concerned about your privacy, request your name and address be withheld.
Where should I send my letter to the editor?
If you are responding to a specific article, send it to the newspaper the article was published in. Otherwise, think about which newspaper is the most appropriate for your issue. If it’s a local issue, send it to your local Community Newspaper or other local paper (e.g. Subiaco Post). If it’s a state or national issue, consider The West Australian, The Sunday Times, or The Australian.
I’ve sent my letter. What can I expect?
Don’t be discouraged if your letter isn’t printed! Newspapers have limited space so not all letters can be printed. Keep trying! If accepted, letters may be edited for clarity or to make them more concise. Sometimes newspapers hold on to letters for a couple of days before printing them – so keep an eye out.
Have you written a letter to the editor before? What has been your experience? Any tips to share? Let us know!

Call for Ban on Alcohol Advertising During Sports on TV

Greens senator, Dr Richard Di Natale, has called for a ban on alcohol advertising during televised sport.Cricket_TV_broadcast_VB_ad
A loophole in the Commercial Television Code of Practice means that alcohol can be advertised during televised sport even though children form a significant share of viewers.
Twelve Australian sporting bodies, including swimming, cycling, hockey, basketball and netball, were last year granted federal government funding for committing to finding alternative sponsors to alcohol companies. However, some major sports maintain their deals with alcohol companies. “I would like to see the AFL sever its relationship with the alcohol industry”, said the senator.
“I don’t think it’s a positive message we’ve got for the AFL to be sponsored by companies like CUB. The fact we can still advertise alcohol in sports broadcasts is a huge loophole and I’d like to see that end as I’m really concerned about the impact on young kids.”
Want more? Read Call to ban alcohol ads in TV sports
What do you think about banning alcohol advertising during sport broadcasts? Have your say at

New U.S. Research: Alcohol Brands Underage Drinkers Prefer

Bud Light, Smirnoff, and Budweiser are among a relatively small number of alcohol brands that underage drinkers choose most, new research from the U.S. has found. This first-of-a-kind study identified specific brands that underage youth drink.
Key findings:
  • The top 25 of nearly 900 brands account for nearly half of all youth drinking.
  • The most popular alcohol product types among underage drinkers were beer (68.9%) and spirits (68.7%), followed by flavoured alcohol beverages (49.9%) and wine (31.6%).
  • Of the top 25 most commonly consumed brands, 12 were spirits, 9 were beers, and 4 were flavoured alcohol beverages.
The authors urge the companies identified in this report to take immediate action to reduce the appeal of their products to youth.
The authors are currently working on new research to examine youth exposure to advertising for specific brands and the consumption of those brands. Professor Michael Siegel, the lead author, said that this research is similar to earlier work done on smoking which identified companies that were targeting young smokers. In 1998, a settlement agreement between major U.S. tobacco companies and 46 states banned the targeting of youth. The authors say their work could similarly inform policy efforts to reduce underage drinking.
Want more?
Read media coverage of the study and the journal article published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Alcohol Advertising Review Board: Submit a Complaint

Have you seen an alcohol ad that concerned you lately? If you have, submit a complaint to the Alcohol Advertising Review Board.AARB_bus_stop_ad

The Alcohol Advertising Review Board considers and reviews complaints from the Australian community about alcohol advertising. It aims to ensure that alcohol advertising is socially responsible, neither conflicts nor detracts from the need for responsibility and moderation in liquor merchandising and consumption and does not encourage young people to drink.

Alcohol advertising impacts on the drinking behaviours and attitudes of young people, and young people are exposed to alcohol advertising in many different forms.

If you see an alcohol ad that concerns you, making a complaint is simple. Just send a picture or link to the ad (if you can) and briefly describe why it concerns you. At you will find an online form and contact details to submit complaints.
Check out some recent determinations from the Alcohol Advertising Review Board:
To stay up to date on all Alcohol Advertising Review Board determinations, follow @AlcoholAdReview on Twitter.

Alcohol in the Media

Newcastle liquor reforms on show at Summit
ABC News, 14 March 2013
Newcastle’s success in combating late night drinking problems will be up for discussion in State Parliament today as the Government tries to tackle binge drinking issues.

MPs blamed for NSW alcohol reform failures
The Australian, 14 March 2013
A bipartisan bid to counter alcohol abuse in NSW failed to bring down alcohol-related hospitalisations, assaults and domestic violence due to lack of political leadership, a health forum has heard.

Call for zero blood alcohol for under 25s
Sydney Morning Herald, 12 March 2013
All drivers aged under 25 should be restricted to a zero blood alcohol limit, a public health group says. The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education says young people are disproportionately represented in road accidents, and laws should be changed to reflect that.
More women are getting drunk on Sydney streets than ever before
The Daily Telegraph, 12 March 2013
Young women are getting drunker than ever on Sydney’s streets. More than 80 per cent of all sexual offences, including rate and indecent assault, involve either the victim or the offender being affected by alcohol, an analysis of police data for Sydney shows.
Mackillop students tackle serious issue of alcohol abuse among young people
Central Coast Express, 11 March 2013
Students at Mackillop Catholic College Warnervale tackled the serious issue of alcohol abuse among young people in a discussion with Central Coast Labor MCL Greg Donnelly on Monday.
Calling time on the punch-drunk
The Canberra Times, 10 March 2013
When the state's Chief Magistrate was a regular pub-goer, hotels didn't have security guards - they just weren't necessary.
Call to ban alcohol ads in TV sports
The Age, 8 March 2013
A Greens senator pushing for gambling advertising to be banned in the AFL, also wants the promotion of alcohol to be outlawed in sports broadcasts.
Jackson takes action on alcohol abuse
The Westerner, 7 March 2013
Triathlete Emma Jackson is supporting a new national awareness campaign highlighting the dangers of binge drinking.
Alcohol study shows interlock devices save lives
ABC News, 5 March 2013
A leading alcohol researcher says about 140 lives could have been saved in WA over the past 10 years if interlock devices had been installed in the cars of repeat drink drivers.
Early closing no help say vendors
Fremantle Gazette, 5 March 2013
Licensed venue operators say calls to close clubs and bars earlier will not solve alcohol-related violence in Perth.
Australian experts back British call for ad ban to curb alcohol harm
The Age, 2 March 2013
Radical steps are needed to stem the rise in alcohol-related death and injury, according to a strategy plan.
Battle of the booze [PDF 137 KB]
Weekend West, 2 March 2013
Blasé attitudes towards alcohol abuse and a culture of getting trashed are hurting all levels of society.
Battle against booze culture
Weekend West, 2 March 2013
More prominent West Australians have backed Fiona Stanley’s call for tougher laws and a change in attitude to stamp out WA’s growing culture of heavy drinking and alcohol-fuelled violence.
Hospital slams AHA for ‘denial’ of alcohol problems
Sydney Morning Herald, 2 March 2013
A big Sydney hospital has accused the Australian Hotels Association of misleading the public and mocking emergency department staff by persistently denying the severity of alcohol-fuelled violence.
Blast for booze plan
The West Australian, 1 March 2013
Labor leader Mark McGowan will today propose changes to WA's liquor licensing rules that would virtually eliminate drinking restrictions in restaurants. This has attracted criticism from MCAAY Director Professor Mike Daube and AHA CEO Bradley Woods.

The Facts

  1. Only 32% of young people aged 16 to 29 are aware of the 2009 National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol.
  2. The majority of young people know the maximum number of drinks recommended to reduce the risk of long term harm from alcohol (74%) and injury, and better understanding of the guidelines was associated with lower- risk drinking behaviour, nonetheless many reported drinking behaviour with risk of long term harm or injury.
Source: Bowring et al, 2012. Know your limits: Awareness of the 2009 Australian alcohol guidelines among young people. Drug and Alcohol Review.
Alcohol Action Station aims to provide the WA community with the tools to take action to reduce harms from alcohol among young people. It is provided by the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth in association with the Injury Control Council of WA. You are receiving this email because you have subscribed to receive Alcohol Action Station fortnightly e‐newsletters and urgent bulletins.

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