Dr Duncan Raistrick

Tackling Alcohol Together

Tackling Alcohol Together is a Society for the Study of Addiction project. The aim of the project is to bring together and present the evidence base for a UK Alcohol Policy, to promote a recommended ‘policy mix’ to politicians, commissioners of services, the drinks industry, and those working in the alcohol fIeld. The recommendations are based on a series of position papers which were written by invited experts and then distilled out by the project steering group. The need for central co-ordination of policy is stressed and, with this in mind, it is proposed that there should be an identified lead agency responsible for the different strands identified within the policy mix. A theme which runs through Tackling Alcohol Together is the ambivalence of the UK population towards drinking. For example in one study of attitudes 92% of respondents supported enforcement of laws on under age drinking whereas only 46% supported limiting
outlets for alcohol. It was decided, therefore, that the first policy objective should be To Increase Public Information and Debate. There are costs and benefits attributable to the drinks and leisure industries. On the one hand this sector of business employs over a million people and, in 1996, generated in excess of £10,000 million revenue for the government: on the other hand it has been estimated that 60% of para-suicides, 30% of divorces, 40% of domestic violence and 20% of child abuse cases are associated with alcohol misuse. The second policy objective, To Encourage the Drinks and Leisure Industries to Introduce Innovative Schemes to Discourage Drunkenness, follows from this. The third objective, To Maximise Community and Domestic Safety, seeks to establish a broad range of local, community based partnerships to target specific high risk or anti-social behaviours. The fourth objective, To Reduce Alcohol Related Health Problems below 1990 Indicator Levels, depends upon the deployment of effective treatment services and maintaining per capita consumption below the 1990 level of 7.6 litres.