Sep 9, 2017
The alcohol industry uses distortion, denial and distraction to mislead people about the risks of developing cancer from drinking alcoholic beverages, often employing similar tactics used by the tobacco industry to mislead smokers, according to a new study…"The weight of scientific evidence is clear - drinking alcohol increases the risk of some of the most common forms of cancer," said Mark Petticrew, a professor of public Health at the LSHTM who co-led the study.
"It has been argued that greater public awareness, particularly of the risk of breast cancer, poses a significant threat to the alcohol industry. Our analysis suggests that the major global alcohol producers may attempt to mitigate this by disseminating misleading information."
The study identified three main industry strategies: Denying any link with cancer, or selective omission of the relationship; distortion by mentioning some risk of cancer, but misrepresenting or obfuscating its size; and distraction by seeking to draw focus away from the risks of alcohol and towards other cancer risks.
Easy access to cheap alcohol is linked to a range of related harms including violence, but planning policies and liquor industry regulations aren't built to address the issue. Across the state, local planning officers are working towards change.
The complex causes behind family violence are under scrutiny, now more than ever as recommendations from the recent Royal Commission into Family Violence start to feed into new reforms. Among them is the question of how easy access to cheap alcohol relates to levels of local violence.
In particular, attention is focussed on the rapid rise of chain-store liquor outlets: an increase in the area of 50 per cent over the past 15 years, outstripping population growth. Victorian research conducted in 2011 found that a 10 per cent increase in off-licence liquor outlets can be associated with a 3.3 per cent increase in domestic violence. And a 2014 report from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education cited chain-store alcohol outlets as contributing "most significantly to trauma risk, with each additional chain outlet associated with a 35.3 per cent increase in intentional injuries [such as assaults] and a 22 per cent increase in unintentional injuries [such as falls]".
A 10 per cent increase in off-licence liquor outlets is associated with a 3.3 per cent increase in domestic violence.
Planning officers' limited powers
Maya Rivis, principal program officer alcohol and tobacco at VicHealth, says: "The social harm that comes from alcohol needs to be considered both at the planning and liquor licensing stages, but currently it is not given enough weight in the decision-making process."
And that's because social impacts are not part of the criteria on which proposals for new off-license liquor outlets are judged. The regulatory system that currently oversees these decisions simply is not built that way.
Researchers at LaTrobe University are currently investigating the use of the planning system to reduce alcohol-related harm. "Planning law is often about the direct impacts on the land around the premises, but with packaged alcohol the effect could be happening kilometres away," concedes research officer Claire Wilkinson.
Planning law is often about the direct impacts on the land around the premises, but with packaged alcohol the effect could be happening kilometres away.
No one wants to end up in hospital after a night on the booze. No doctor or nurse wants to face physical and verbal abuse at the hands of a drunk patient. No one should be happy that emergency waiting rooms are full of injured Victorians who’ve had too much to drink.
Although the majority of Victorians drink moderately, there are too many in our community who continue to put themselves and others at risk of serious alcohol-related harm. Which is why VicHealth has done considerable research into why Victoria, and Australia, has a culture where risky or binge drinking is acceptable.
We’ve discovered, despite the stereotypes, there is no one ‘drinking culture’ in Victoria. People drink for a range of different reasons, in a range of different ways and at a range of different levels – from construction workers drinking to be ‘one of the boys’ to university colleges where binge drinking is just a ‘normal’ part of student life on campus. What’s considered acceptable in a rural community may not be okay in suburban Melbourne.
With so many different alcohol cultures, it makes sense that a one-size-fits-all solution isn’t going to effectively reduce risky drinking in Victoria. Which is why we developed the Alcohol Cultures Framework to guide public health action on alcohol culture change. We’ve also recently announced support for nine new creative projects to try to change a range of drinking cultures across the state.
Henry Bodkin 18/8/17
The ‘work hard, play hard’ medical student who burns the candle at both ends, consuming prodigious quantities of alcohol before an early morning anatomy class, has long been a staple of university life.
But a new survey carried out for the British Medical Journal suggests this stereotype is now little more than a myth.
Merely one in ten future doctors currently exceed the Government’s recommended weekly alcohol limit, and a quarter profess themselves to be completely teetotal
5 August 2017
The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) welcomed the opportunity to make a supplementary submission to the NT Alcohol Policies and Legislation Review The Tobacco effect: The alcohol industry casting doubt.
Recognising how powerful vested interests have conspired to undermine science by merchandising doubt, and have run deliberate yet effective campaigns that have distorted public debate and mislead the public, this submission sought to expose the industry tactics and set the record straight.
The alcohol industry’s submissions to the NT Alcohol Policies and Legislation Review are replete with examples of this merchandising of doubt: there is not enough proof to justify regulation, and insufficient evidence to act; insisting the science is uncertain; emphasising true but irrelevant facts; cherry-picking facts out of context; and claiming the science is being manipulated to fulfill a political agenda. After all, these tactics used by the alcohol industry to resist government regulation and undermine good public policy are straight out of the tobacco industry’s playbook.