News roundup: January 2019

February 2019 | 8 minutes

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

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

In the news

Airlines reluctant to tackle alcohol-related problems on flights

Airlines are not serious about tackling alcohol-related problems on flights, according to research by Which?Travel, which puts Ryanair top for disruptive behaviour. Which? say one in ten passengers experienced bad behaviour on flights in the past year, yet many flight companies still seek to maximise onboard alcohol sales.

An easyJet flight attendant spoke to Which? anonymously, saying airlines only pay ‘lip service’ as airlines encourage staff to push alcohol sales, whilst reporting drunk or disorderly behaviour can mean unpaid hours and sitting around waiting to fill in additional paperwork. Closely behind Ryanair in the bad behaviour table was Thomas Cook, followed by Tui then easyJet. The Government is currently consulting on whether airports should remain exempt from the Licensing Act.

Pubs in the UK during Dry January

Pubs have been a regular news feature, as highlighted in our recent post on pubs and policy in 2019. One BBC report asked Can pubs stand more Dry Januarys?, with one industry group saying the campaign 'has hit pubs and breweries hard'. However other pubs had different takes; JD Wetherspoon said it "doesn't worry" about Dry January, noting its best-selling drink is Pepsi, with others saying they "embraced" Dry January, offering a wider selection of non-alcoholic beers, ciders and spirits. Another BBC article explored areas where pubs are 'bucking the trend' with numbers rising. See here for more on the picture of pubs in the UK.

‘Violent street-drinkers' causing fear in Leeds

"Violent street-drinkers have left people living in an area of Leeds afraid to go out", according to a BBC report claiming residents are living “in fear”. The claims were part of an objection to an application by Krakus off-licence in Yorkshire to extend its alcohol sales to 24 hours a day. The decision is due to be made on 15 January.

Health and Dry January

Dry January benefits widely highlighted by the media

'Dry January: What are the benefits and drawbacks?’, a BBC article asked a number of key academics. A month off can lead to tangible health benefits by the end of the month, according to some research, whilst others emphasised the importance of year-round drinking patterns in minimising risk. Meanwhile an article in Forbes on What the pros learned about Dry January suggests its popularity may also be on the rise in the US. An article in the Express highlights the health benefits of taking part in Dry January, as does a piece on the Refinery29 website. Taking part in Dry January could even help you be more successful at work, according to Yahoo! Finance.

A leading dental surgeon backed Dry January, or at least cutting down, highlighting the risks of regular drinking to oral health. “Drinking too much alcohol has been linked to an array of oral health problems including oral cancer, tooth decay and tooth erosion", according to Professor Michael Escudier.

Low and no-alcohol drinks on the rise

The rise of low and no alcohol drinks was explored in a recent BBC Radio 4 feature 'Weak, small and free: How no and low alcohol is finding power without strength'.

Urgent action needed to address FASD awareness gap

The issue of children affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) is a 'national emergency', according to a report in The Times (£). It calls for urgent action to address the issue of a lack of awareness amongst not just the public, but healthcare staff too. See here for recent FASD guidance.

British people aren’t always honest about their drinking

Do people tell the truth about their drinking? Results from a YouGov poll suggests a quarter of Britons (27%) say they have told someone that they drink less alcohol than they actually do or did, versus six in ten (58%) who say they haven’t. Among those who have ever lied about drinking, two thirds (60%) lied to their GP – one in six (14%) have done so more than five times. However the survey methods may well raise some questions; indeed the British Social Attitudes survey, arguably considerably more robust, suggests 95% of people are either 'fairly' or 'very' comfortable talking to GPs about their drinking.

Liverpool Centre for Alcohol Research launches

The launch of the Liverpool Centre for Alcohol Research, which included a talk from Adrian Chiles, was reported by ITV news, stating that in 2010, 270 thousand years of life were lost (counted as deaths under 75 years) due to alcohol.