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Alcohol-related harm, ambulance call outs and car crashes have all dramatically declined in the Northern Territory since the introduction of a minimum price on the cost of alcohol.

The Northern Territory in Australia was the first jurisdiction to implement the minimum unit price (MUP) policy in the country. MUP has been in effect since October 2018. More than a year later, preliminary evaluation results are proving MUP to be effective in reducing alcohol harm in the territory.

MUP was introduced in NT along with other alcohol policy reforms to reduce the staggering alcohol harm in the territory. Health data had found:

  • 44% Territorians engaged in heavy alcohol use comparative to the 26% national average,
  • Alcohol was related to high rates of injury due to interpersonal violence, road traffic crashes and family violence, and
  • The cost of alcohol-related harm to the NT economy and society was estimated at $1.3 billion each year.

The Territorian government introduced the floor price legislation to cut alcohol-related crime, anti-social behaviour and harm.

The MUP policy targets cheap alcohol widely bought by heavy alcohol users and those in lower socio-economic standing. In NT, the MUP was set at $1.30 per standard unit of alcohol. One of the cheapest available alcohol before MUP was cask wine. The policy increased the price of cask wine by 86%.

The price increase has resulted in a reported drop in wholesale supply of cask wine.

The Northern Territory government conducted an independent review of their MUP policy recently and found the policy linked to decreases in alcohol harm including reductions in alcohol-related,

  • assault offences,
  • protective custody episodes,
  • ambulance attendances,
  • emergency department presentations,
  • road traffic crashes, and
  • number of child protection notifications, protection orders, and out-of-home care cases

Among the findings are,

  • a 23% reduction in alcohol related assaults across the Territory in 2018/19 compared to the same period in 2017/18;
  • a 17.3% reduction in emergency department presentations in the NT in 2018/19 compared to the same period in 2017/18.

The number of child protection notifications, protection orders, and out-of-home care cases decreased too.

We’re certainly seeing some positive outcomes for a very targeted measure,” said the researchers who conducted the review, as per ABC News.

Researchers also say even more comprehensive results will be found after the 3 year review due in 2021.

Deakin University’s Professor Peter Miller, who led the research, said although the outcomes were promising and provided a baseline, longer-term evaluations were needed.

Changes in social trends require more time to be certain,” he said according to Canberra Times.

The methods used in this report have allowed for an assessment of changes across a range of outcomes. And the staggered implementation of different policy elements in different locations allows for some teasing out of differential impacts.”

For complete story

First published: 27 February 2020 


Background and aims: In February 2014, pubs and bars in Kings Cross (KX) and the central business district (CBD) of Sydney, Australia were required to stop serving alcohol by 3 a.m. and operate a ‘lockout’ from 1.30 a.m. We studied changes in the incidence of assault during the following 5 years, including possible displacement.

Measurements: We compared change in non‐domestic assault in KX and the CBD with adjacent areas, other city areas, and outer suburbs, adjusting for the trend in the rest of the state during three periods: 6 p.m.–1.29 a.m. (‘pre‐lockout’), 1.30 a.m.–2.59 a.m. (‘lockout’) and 3 a.m.–6 a.m. (‘after last‐drinks’). We constructed interrupted time‐series models with terms for secular trend and season, producing incidence rate ratios (IRR) for step and slope parameters. We performed sensitivity analyses on impacts of missing location data.

Findings: After the intervention, assaults fell 38% in KX (IRR for step change = 0.62, 95% CI = 0.49, 0.79) and 10% in the CBD (IRR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.80, 0.99). Assaults continued declining in KX (IRR for slope = 0.990, 95% CI = 0.982, 0.998) and later increased in adjacent areas (IRR for slope = 1.006, 95% CI = 1.001, 1.011) and earlier in the evenings in both KX and the adjacent areas. The net reduction was 627 assaults over 60 months post‐intervention, i.e. 10 fewer per month. Estimates were robust to extreme assumptions about missing data.

Conclusions: The 2014 alcohol supply restrictions for pubs and bars in Kings Cross (KX) and the central business district (CBD) of Sydney, Australia were followed by a substantial reduction in the incidence of assault in KX and to a lesser extent in the CBD, possibly displacing some cases to adjacent areas and earlier in the evening

For Complete article

Alcohol sales have spiked during the past month. It has long been acknowledged that Scotland has an ‘unhealthy relationship with alcohol’. Too much drinking carries with it heavy personal, economic, health and societal costs. The combination of being home-bound, feeling extraordinary stress or fear, as well as the cultural tendency to turn to both sex and alcohol for comfort and relief makes increasingly risky behaviour a near certainty.

One example of predictable ‘collateral damage’ from the current pandemic will be a significant rise in the cases of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) across Scotland.

Alcohol exposure in utero is the world’s leading cause of neurodevelopmental (brain and nervous system) damage, learning disabilities and behavioural problems. FASD cannot be cured, reversed or outgrown, as it permanently compromises lives and life chances, e.g. by school failure, substance abuse, as well as being troubled and in trouble.

In fact, FASD is invisible in 90 per cent of the people affected and can be difficult to confirm, which means it is often misdiagnosed or simply overlooked – for instance,  while the Scottish Government estimates that approximately 172,000 children, young and adults across Scotland are currently affected, there are between 500 and 1,000 undiagnosed FASD cases for every one officially confirmed.

There is no risk-free time during pregnancy, no safe type of alcohol or risk-free amount - which is why all four UK Chief Medical Officers advise that no alcohol should be consumed during pregnancy or if likely to conceive (including in the weeks/months before pregnancy is confirmed). Yet FASD is preventable in either of two ways: by not drinking during pregnancy - or by not getting pregnant while continuing to drink.

Is anything being said - or, better still, being done - to help prevent this specific ‘collateral damage’? Since most people are riveted on new information about what can be done to avoid harm during this pandemic, there is a great opportunity in this moment to prevent FASD.

 For complete story


Alcohol is known to be harmful to health in general, and is well understood to increase the risk of injury and violence, including intimate partner violence, and can cause alcohol poisoning. At times of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol consumption can exacerbate health vulnerability, risk-taking behaviours, mental health issues and violence. WHO/Europe reminds people that drinking alcohol does not protect them from COVID-19, and encourages governments to enforce measures which limit alcohol consumption.

Busting myths on alcohol and COVID-19 As part of its public health response to COVID-19, WHO has worked with partners to develop a factsheet which addresses myths and provides guidance during the pandemic: “Alcohol and COVID-19: what you need to know”. Fear and misinformation have generated a dangerous myth that consuming high-strength alcohol can kill the COVID-19 virus. It does not. Consuming any alcohol poses health risks, but consuming high-strength ethyl alcohol (ethanol), particularly if it has been adulterated with methanol, can result in severe health consequences, including death.

For more

Expert fears shift to home drinking may fuel increases in violence, fires and dependence

Alcohol is an “unhelpful coping strategy” for the possible stress and isolation of coronavirus lockdown, a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert has warned.

The UN agency acknowledged that many turn to drugs and alcohol in times of crisis, as a new survey suggested the pandemic has caused nearly two thirds of adults in the UK to feel anxious or worried.

But using substances to cope “can make things worse”, cautioned Dr Aiysha Malik, a technical officer at WHO Europe’s mental health and substance abuse department.

Dr Piper warned that “with routines out of the window we might well find ourselves reaching for a drink more often”.

Initial reports of supermarkets running out of alcohol and online retailers being overwhelmed with orders may point to a possible increase in consumption, but experts say it is too early to tell the overall impact that coronavirus will have on the nation’s drinking habits.

But it is logical to predict that alcohol only being available for home consumption may lead to rises in domestic violence, fires and potential increases dependence, according to James Morris of South Bank London University’s centre for addictive behaviours research.

For complete article