News roundup: April 2018

Maddy Lawson | May 2018 | 9 minutes

April's monthly roundup from the Alcohol Policy UK blog.

Each month we publish a news roundup from the Alcohol Policy UK blog. Since the March roundup

In the news

Build up to minimum unit pricing in Scotland

On 1 May the Scottish Government introduced a minimum unit price for alcohol. We know it’s not technically April, but you can read our summary of what it means for Scotland and the rest of the UK here. During April significant media attention was seen in the run-up, the Guardian headline reading 'Scotland awaits alcohol minimum pricing with mixed emotions'.

New funding for children of alcohol dependent parents

On 23 April Jeremy Hunt announced £6 million in funding for children with alcohol dependent parents. Plans include fast access to mental health services for children - and programmes to treat parents' addiction. An estimated 200,000 children in England live with alcohol-dependent parents. The NSPCC says there has been a 30% increase in calls to its helpline over the welfare of a child due to a parent misusing alcohol in the past year. Read our take on the announcement. BBC

Call for taxes on alcohol

Experts are urging countries across the world to use taxes to deter people from eating, drinking and smoking habits that will damage their health, reported The Guardian, while BBC News set out the evidence, asking, will paying more for alcohol and sugary drinks make us healthier?

The rise of non-drinking

The rising popularity of non-drinking was discussed in the Guardian's Time, please: is drinking becoming as socially unacceptable as smoking? Quoting our own Dr James Nicholls, Director of Research and Policy Development, it argues that 'drinking in the UK has a spirited history, stretching back thousands of years... through to the peak modern drinking period of the 90s and early 00s', but 'over the past decade, that culture has shifted'.

Crackdown on drinking on planes

All alcohol bought at airports could be placed in sealed bags in a crackdown on disruption by drunken passengers. Ministers are also considering introducing tougher penalties for drunkenness on aircraft and overhauling licensing laws for airside premises, as part of a new Aviation Strategy. The Scotsman

Invention of injectable alcohol sensor

Scientists in California have created a tiny new sensor that can continuously monitor levels of alcohol in the blood. The device, which measures roughly one cubic millimetre, is injected beneath the skin and can be linked up to a smartphone. MailOnline

Bedfordshire tests local alcohol sellers with ‘drunk’ actors

The Bedfordshire police force has been using 'drunk' volunteer actors to test whether local pubs and clubs will sell alcohol to people already heavily under the influence. Testing locations in Dunstable, including pubs, clubs, and newsagents, they noted that all the sites made sales to the actors displaying signs of excessive drunkenness. The Guardian. See Alcohol Policy UK analysis.

Alcohol remains the top selling consumer goods category in the UK

Alcohol has retained its position as the top selling consumer goods category in the UK, worth £16.1bn in 2017, according to new figures. Despite alcohol consumption declining steadily worldwide, a reduction in supermarket special offers, fewer price cuts, and the ongoing 'premiumisation' of everyday drinks have helped alcohol to keep its place. The Drinks Business

Sales of alcohol-free and low alcohol drinks soar

A BBC World Service programme, Booze Free Boom, looked into why sales of alcohol-free products aimed at traditional drinkers are surging.

Bargain Booze sold

Bestway has completed the buyout of the retail divisions of Conviviality in a £7m deal that will see the food wholesaler gain control of Bargain Booze, Wine Rack, WS Retail and Select Convenience. Sky News

BBC investigate drinking among the Punjabi population

For many British Punjabis alcohol abuse is an open secret, according to a BBC report which surveyed over 1000 British Sikhs to find out what they think about alcohol use. It reports alcohol consumption is glamorised across different aspects of Punjabi culture and shame stops many seeking the help that they need, though specialist projects in places such as Birmingham are seeking to engage and support Punjabi drinkers.


New large-scale study on alcohol and health

Research published in The Lancet from the University of Cambridge and the British Heart Foundation, which looked at 600,000 drinkers across the world, gathered a great deal of media attention. It was reported as meaning that anything more than five glasses of wine or pints of beer a week is dangerous to health, and could be knocking years off a person’s lifespan - the Telegraph. But others interpreted it as meaning that alcohol is good for heart health.

A useful summary from NHS Choices reviewed the research and coverage and concluded that the study adds weight to the recommendations that both women and men drink within the UK limits of 14 units of alcohol a week. Read our take here.

Do drinkers check the alcohol content of their drinks?

Only 43% of beer drinkers ever check the alcohol content of their drinks, according to trade mag Checkout, while 69% of wine drinkers checked the strength at least sometimes. The ABV was least likely to affect purchase of spirits, with 76% saying it had no bearing on their purchasing.