Alcohol Alert 2021 : The Year in Review

As we near the end of another COVID-filled year, we reflect on the progression, stagnation and regression in the world of alcohol research, policy and harm.

Sadly the most prominent story and area for concern was the news that alcohol-specific deaths across the UK rose by a shocking 19% in the previous year, likely due to a change in drinking habits during the COVID lockdowns. With experts highlighting that many of these habits continued throughout 2021 despite a relaxation of lockdown restrictions, 2022 constitutes an important time to improve alcohol policies.

The announcement in the October Budget that alcohol duty would be reformed marked an exciting development, with a plan to tax all products based on their strength from February 2023. Although clearly a step in the right direction in terms of improving public health, there are still many questions about whether the reform goes far enough, particularly with cider receiving a preferential rate compared to beer and a reduction in duty received. There are bigger public health concerns regarding the continued freeze to duty rates.

With an increasingly virtual world, IAS has been able to host a number of online seminars, attended by an international audience of public health experts, government officials and politicians, and NGOs. All of our events have been recorded and can be found on our YouTube channel. These include our ‘Alcohol & Sustainability series’, and the launch of two IAS-funded reports: ‘Alcohol marketing during the 2020 Six Nations’ and ‘Preventing underage alcohol purchasing online using payment card details’. We look forward to hosting more in 2022.

Please follow the link to our Substack page for a roundup of the rest of 2021.