Nomination for paper of the year from Professor Linda Bauld, Univeristy of Edinburgh highlights the importance of alcohol availability in the role of alcohol consumption. Scotland has lead the way on minimum pricing – can we do more ?

Alcohol Consumption and the Physical Availability of Take-Away Alcohol: Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses of the Days and Hours of Sale and Outlet Density

Adam Sherk, Tim Stockwell, Tanya Chikritzhs, Sven Andreasson, Colin Angus

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There is a paucity of evidence on the effect of population level policies to reduce alcohol consumption. Alcohol-attributable cancer risk develops from low levels of alcohol consumption and rises in a clear gradient associated with the amount consumed. Arguably the most effective way to reduce these risks is to implement population level policies that contribute to reducing alcohol consumption. However, while good evidence exists on price measures to reduce alcohol consumption and on the impact of alcohol promotion on consumption, the evidence on specific measures to address wide-spread availability has been limited to date. This paper fills a gap in the evidence on availability by bringing together the results of a range of studies to conclude that restricting the physical availability of alcohol reduces per-capita alcohol consumption.

Main take home messages   

Alcohol is a preventable cause of seven types of cancer accounting for just under 13,000 cases of cancer each year in the UK. The more alcohol an individual consumes, the greater their risk of alcohol-related cancers. Decreasing the days and hours of sale of alcohol, and the density of alcohol outlets could reduce alcohol consumption at the population level and, potentially in the future, the number of alcohol related cancers.

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