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The BMA calls for a comprehensive alcohol control strategy

In a report by Prof Gerard Hastings and Kathryn Angus of Stirling University and the Open University, the British Medical Association calls for the UK governments to move away from partnership with the alcohol industry and to impose a range of control policies.

The report, entitled "Under the influence: The damaging effect of alcohol marketing on young people" surveys a wide range of evidence on alcohol policies. The authors emphasise that alcohol problems are not restricted to young people in our society and that their drinking "is not an aberration; it is a predictable manifestation of an excessively pro-alcohol social norm."

The BMA calls for the UK governments to:-

1. Implement and rigorously enforce a comprehensive ban on all alcohol marketing communications

2. Establish minimum price levels for the sale of alcoholic products

3. Increase the level of excise duty paid on alcohol above the rate of inflation and rationalise the current taxation system so that it is accurately linked to alcoholic strength for all products

4. Regulate the availability of alcoholic products through a reduction in licensing hours for on- and off-licensed premises

5. Commission further independent research and evaluation of sales practices, covering all aspects of industry marketing (including that of producers, distributors and supermarkets). This should be used to inform, and where appropriate, strengthen the current regulatory system

6. Ensure that the density of alcohol outlets is taken into account in planning or licence applications, and where necessary, introduce legislative changes to ensure these factors are considered

7. Assess the impact on public health of the changes to licensing legislation in the UK, and in particular the emergence of pubcos

8. Undertake a full audit of the market, and consider ways to prohibit any products that either appeal to young people more than adults, or are particularly associated with problematic drinking

9. Introduce a compulsory levy on the alcohol industry with which to fund an independent public health body to oversee alcohol related research, health promotion and policy advice. The levy should be set as a proportion of current expenditure on alcohol marketing, index linked in future years.

The full report can be downloaded here.