To support the free and open dissemination of research findings and information on alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. To encourage open access to peer-reviewed articles free for all to view.

For full versions of posted research articles readers are encouraged to email requests for "electronic reprints" (text file, PDF files, FAX copies) to the corresponding or lead author, who is highlighted in the posting.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Nearly Half of Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities Offer Mentoring and Other Peer Support Services

Individuals who have achieved recovery can offer valuable social support for those looking to start or maintain their own recovery process. Peer mentors can help their mentees set goals, solve problems, access resources, and build substance-free social networks.   > > > >  Read More

Occupation, Work Organization Conditions, and Alcohol Misuse in Canada: An 8-Year Longitudinal Study

This study investigated the specific contribution of occupations and work organization conditions to the onset and recurrent alcohol misuse in Canadian workers between 1994–1995 and 2002–2003.

Longitudinal data were derived from Statistics Canada's National Population Health Survey, totaling 6,526 and 6,582 workers (45% females) nested in 1,337 and 1,413 neighborhoods for onset and recurrent alcohol misuse, respectively. Data were analyzed with multilevel logistic regression models.

Results suggested a limited contribution for work factors to the onset of alcohol misuse, a stronger influence for them on recurrent alcohol misuse.

The study's limitations are discussed.

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Acceptability of the use of Motivational Interviewing to Reduce Underage Drinking in a Native American Community

Thirty-six Native American tribal leaders and members living on contiguous rural southwest California reservations were surveyed concerning their view of the acceptability of a motivational interviewing (MI) intervention with youth (aged 8–18 years) who are drinking and their families.

The results suggest the following: (1) a substantial proportion of reservation youth would be willing to accept MI for behavior change; (2) relatively few are actually ready to change; (3) most reservation youth are in the precontemplation stage of change; and (4) MI may be well suited as an intervention to prevent underage drinking in that population.

The study's limitations are noted.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chapter 10 - Role of the Serotonergic System in Alcohol Dependence: From Animal Models to Clinics

Alcohol dependence remains among the most common substance abuse problems worldwide, and compulsive alcohol consumption is a significant public health concern. 

Alcohol is an addictive drug that alters brain function through interactions with multiple neurotransmitter systems. These neurotransmitter systems mediate the reinforcing effects of alcohol. 

Specifically, the serotonergic system is important in mediating alcohol reward, preference, dependence, and craving. 

In this review chapter, we first discuss the serotonin system as it relates to alcoholism, and then outline interactions between this system and other neurotransmitter systems. 

We emphasize the serotonin transporter and its possible role in alcoholism, then present several serotonergic receptors and discuss their contribution to alcoholism, and finally assess the serotonin system as a target for pharmacotherapy, with an emphasis on current and potential treatments. 

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Chilean Scientists Develop First Vaccine Against Alcoholism

If tests on humans are successful, one jab a month would keep patients away from the toxic sauce known as alcohol.

Chilean scientists derived the vaccine from a genetic mutation present in 20% of the Asian population; those with the mutation in their genes reacted so violently to alcohol, that it inhibits addiction, according to Juan Asenjo head of the project.  The Chilean scientists in essence tried to replicate that gene in a vaccine.  

The vaccine is expected to augment dizziness, nausea and other adverse effects of alcohol, “With the vaccine, the desire to drink is going to be minimal, due to the sharpness of the effects” said the physician. 

The concept has already been successfully tested on rats, and proved to be more effective than patches and pills used currently to control urges in alcoholic patients because it does not depend on the patient’s will to take the medication, and has far less side effects.  > > > >  Read More

‘Off your Face(book)’: Alcohol in online social identity construction and its relation to problem drinking in university students

Alcohol is a key component of identity exploration for many young people, yet few studies have investigated identity construction in relation to problematic drinking. Increases in youth alcohol consumption have coincided with expanding use of communications technologies, particularly social networking sites (SNS), which have altered traditional conditions of identity construction. It has been found young people often engage with alcohol in the SNS environment by portraying themselves as binge drinkers. 

The current study applied an innovative approach to identity construction (the photographic essay) to provide insight into the portrayal of ‘alcohol-identity’ on Facebook.
One hundred and fifty-eight university students completed a range of alcohol measures before providing access for researchers to view their Facebook profiles to operationalise their alcohol-identity according to autophotographic methodology.
Participants utilised a variety of photographic and textual material to present alcohol as a component of their identity on Facebook, with over half having selected an alcohol-related profile image. Alcohol-identity predicted alcohol consumption and problematic alcohol-related behaviours as measured by questionnaires used to reliably identify alcohol-related problems in university students. Almost 60% reported potentially problematic alcohol use according to the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test.

Findings suggest that portraying oneself as a drinker is considered by many young people to be a socially desirable component of identity in the SNS environment, perpetuating an online culture that normalises binge drinking. 

Ready-made Facebook photo essays provide an alternate method of accessing problematic alcohol use, supplementing self-report measures.

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Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and hallucinogen use in Samoan adolescents

Adolescent substance use has increased with globalisation, and yet few data exist from lower- and middle-income countries and the Pacific Islands. 

This study examines the prevalence of three aspects of substance use over the past 30 days in Samoan adolescents: (i) use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; (ii) polysubstance use; and (iii) possible substance use problems.
A survey was administered to secondary school children (n = 879) between 12 and 19 years of age at a single school in Apia, the capital of Samoa, in August 2008.

There were important gender differences in substance use with boys reporting significantly higher rates of any use of each substance and polysubstance use. Boys were also three times more likely to report behaviours indicative of substance use problems. There were no significant differences in regular use of any substance with the exception of marijuana. Although the use of hallucinogens is prominent for boys and girls in the younger age group (12–15), consumption decreases with age. Boys showed substantial increases in any use of alcohol and marijuana and daily use of tobacco by age. 

There was also a significant increase in the number of boys reporting behaviours indicative of disordered use by age to 21% of 16- to 19-year-old boys.
One of few studies on substance use in Samoa, the data provide a basis for setting priorities to address health risks posed by adolescent use and understanding the influence of rapid change.

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Parenting strategies for reducing adolescent alcohol use: a Delphi consensus study

International concern regarding the increase in preventable harms attributed to adolescent alcohol consumption has led to growing political and medical consensus that adolescents should avoid drinking for as long as possible. For this recommendation to be adopted, parents require strategies they can employ to prevent or reduce their adolescent's alcohol use that are supported by evidence.

The Delphi method was used to obtain expert consensus on parenting strategies effective in preventing and reducing adolescent alcohol consumption. A literature search identified 457 recommendations for parents to reduce their adolescent child's alcohol use. These recommendations were presented to a panel of 38 Australian experts who were asked to rate their importance over three survey rounds.

There were 289 parenting strategies that were endorsed as important or essential in reducing adolescent alcohol use by [greater than or equal to] 90% of the panel. These strategies were categorised into 11 sub-headings: things parents should know about adolescent alcohol use, delaying adolescent's introduction to alcohol, modelling responsible drinking and attitudes towards alcohol, talking to adolescents about alcohol, establishing family rules, monitoring adolescents when unsupervised, preparing adolescents for peer pressure, unsupervised adolescent drinking, what to do when an adolescent has been drinking without parental permission, hosting adolescent parties, and establishing and maintaining a good parent-child relationship. The endorsed strategies were written into a document suitable for parents.

A comprehensive set of parenting strategies for preventing or reducing adolescent alcohol consumption were identified. These strategies can be promoted to parents to help them implement national recommendations regarding adolescent alcohol use. 

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Restoration of Altered MicroRNA Expression in the Ischemic Heart with Resveratrol

Resveratrol, a constituent of red wine, is important for cardioprotection. MicroRNAs are known regulators for genes involved in resveratrol-mediated cardiac remodeling and the regulatory pathway involving microRNA has not been studied so far.

We explored the cardioprotection by resveratrol in ischemia/reperfusion model of rat and determined cardiac functions. miRNA profile was determined from isolated RNA using quantitative Real-time PCR based array. Systemic analyses of miRNA array and theirs targets were determined using a number of computational approaches.

Cardioprotection by resveratrol and its derivative in ischemia/reperfusion [I/R] rat model was examined with miRNA expression profile. Unique expression pattern were found for each sample, particularly with resveratrol [pure compound] and longevinex [commercial resveratrol formulation] pretreated hearts. Longevinex and resveratrol pretreatment modulates the expression pattern of miRNAs close to the control level based on PCA analyses. Differential expression was observed in over 25 miRNAs, some of them, such as miR-21 were previously implicated in cardiac remodeling. The target genes for the differentially expressed miRNA include genes of various molecular function such as metal ion binding, sodium-potassium ion, transcription factors, which may play key role in reducing I/R injury.

Rats pretreated with resveratrol for 3 weeks leads to significant cardioprotection against ischemia/reperfusion injury. A unique signature of miRNA profile is observed in control heart pretreated with resveratrol or longevinex. We have determined specific group of miRNA in heart that have altered during IR injuries. Most of those altered microRNA expressions modulated close to their basal level in resveratrol or longevinex treated I/R mice.

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Chapter 4 The NMDA Receptor and Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction is a costly and detrimental chronic relapsing disorder, characterized by compulsive alcohol use despite the negative consequences; it is thought to be associated with aberrant learning and memory processes [1,2].
The NMDA-type glutamate receptor (NMDAR) plays an essential role in synaptic plasticity and learning and memory [3,4].

Not surprisingly, it is well established that the NMDAR is a major target of alcohol (ethanol) in the brain and has been implicated in ethanol-associated phenotypes such as tolerance, dependence, withdrawal, craving, and relapse [5,6].
This chapter focuses on studies elucidating molecular mechanisms that underlie ethanol’s actions on the NMDAR, and discusses the physiological and behavioral consequences of ethanol’s actions.

Finally, we summarize information regarding the potential use of modulators of NMDAR function as medication to treat the adverse effects of alcoholism.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Media as social influence: Racial differences in the effects of peers and media on adolescent alcohol cognitions and consumption.

Racial differences in the effects of peer and media influence on adolescents' alcohol cognitions and consumption were examined in a large-scale panel study. 

With regard to peer influence, results from cross-lagged panel analyses indicated that the relation between perceived peer drinking and own drinking was significant for both Black and White adolescents, but it was stronger for the White adolescents. 

With regard to media influence, structural modeling analyses indicated that exposure to drinking in movies was associated with more alcohol consumption 8 months and 16 months later. 

These effects were mediated by increases in the favorability of the adolescents' drinker prototypes, their willingness to drink, and their tendency to affiliate with friends who were drinking. 

Multiple group analyses indicated that, once again, the effects (both direct and indirect) were much stronger for White adolescents than for Black adolescents. 

The results suggest media influence works in a similar manner to social influence and that Whites may be more susceptible to both types of influence.

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Risk factors for elementary school drinking: Pubertal status, personality, and alcohol expectancies concurrently predict fifth grade alcohol consumption.

Little is known about the correlates and potential causes of very early drinking. 

The authors proposed this risk theory: (a) pubertal onset is associated with increased levels of positive urgency (the tendency to act rashly when experiencing intensely positive mood), negative urgency (the tendency to act rashly when distressed), and sensation seeking; (b) those traits predict increased endorsement of high-risk alcohol expectancies; (c) the expectancies predict drinker status among fifth graders; and (d) the apparent influence of positive urgency, negative urgency, and sensation seeking on drinker status is mediated by alcohol expectancies. 

The authors conducted a concurrent test of whether the relationships among these variables were consistent with the theory in a sample of 1,843 fifth grade students. 

In a well-fitting structural model, their hypotheses were supported. 

Drinker status among fifth graders is not just a function of context and factors external to children: it is predictable from a combination of pubertal status, personality characteristics, and learned alcohol expectancies.

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Drinking behaviors in social situations account for alcohol-related problems among socially anxious individuals.

Individuals with elevated social anxiety appear particularly vulnerable to experiencing alcohol-related problems. However, research has thus far failed to identify factors that seem to account for this relationship. 

The present study utilized a measure designed to assess alcohol-related behaviors related to social situations previously identified as anxiety-provoking among those with elevated social anxiety. 

The Drinking to Cope with Social Anxiety Scale (DCSAS) assessed alcohol-related behaviors in 24 social situations and was comprised of two subscales: Drinking to Cope in Social Situations and Avoidance of Social Situations if Alcohol was Unavailable. 

Both DCSAS scales demonstrated adequate internal consistency and were significantly, positively related to number of alcohol-related problems. Individuals with clinically meaningful social anxiety (n = 60) achieved higher scores on both DCSAS subscales compared to those with lower social anxiety (n = 60). Importantly, the DCSAS scales mediated the relationship between social anxiety group classification and alcohol-related problems.

Results highlight the importance of contextual factors in assessing alcohol-related behaviors among high-risk populations. 

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Measuring mindfulness and examining its relationship with alcohol use and negative consequences.

Mindfulness has been proposed as a useful adjunct to alcohol abuse treatment. However, very little research has examined the basic relationship between alcohol use and mindfulness. Inconsistency in definition and measurement of mindfulness across studies makes such research difficult to interpret and conduct. 

Therefore, the current research sought to validate an emerging mindfulness measure, the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), and examine its relationship with alcohol use and alcohol-related negative consequences among a sample of 316 college-aged adults. 

The purported factor structure of the FFMQ was examined using confirmatory factor analysis. Structural equation modeling was used to examine relations among mindfulness, alcohol use, and alcohol-related negative consequences. 

Consistent with past research, results supported the five-factor structure of the FFMQ. Structural equation modeling analyses revealed that two awareness-based factors of mindfulness were negatively related to alcohol use. 

After controlling for alcohol use, one acceptance-based factor (nonjudging of thoughts and feelings) was negatively related to alcohol-related consequences, and one awareness-based factor was positively related to consequences (all ps < .05). Effect sizes were small-medium. 

The results reported here inform the burgeoning development of mindfulness-based addiction treatment and provide additional psychometric validation of the FFMQ.

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Help-seeking for alcohol-related problems in college students: Correlates and preferred resources.

Despite the development of a variety of efficacious alcohol intervention approaches for college students, few student drinkers seek help. 

The present study assessed students' history of help-seeking for alcohol problems, as well as their estimates of how likely they would be to use various help-seeking resources, should they wish to change their drinking. 

Participants were 197 college students who reported recent heavy drinking (46% male, 68.5% White, 27.4% African-American). Participants completed measures related to their drinking and their use (both past use and likelihood of future use) of 14 different alcohol help-seeking options. 

Repeated-measures analyses of variance revealed that students preferred informal help-seeking (e.g., talking to friends and family) over formal (e.g., talking with a counselor or medical provider) and anonymous resources (e.g., internet- or computer-based programs). 

Higher self-ideal discrepancy, greater depressive symptoms, and more alcohol-related consequences were positively associated with actual past help-seeking. 

Alcohol-related problems and normative discrepancy were negatively associated with hypothetical likelihood of utilizing all three help-seeking resources. 

These results suggest that heavy drinking college students prefer low-threshold intervention options including peer, family, computerized, and brief motivational interventions. 

Only 36 participants (18.3% of the sample) reported that they had utilized any of the help-seeking options queried, suggesting that campus prevention efforts should include both promoting low-threshold interventions and attempting to increase the salience of alcohol-related risk and the potential utility of changing drinking patterns.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Motivational pathways to unique types of alcohol consequences.

Individuals consume alcohol for a variety of reasons (motives), and these reasons may be differentially associated with the types of drinking outcomes that result. 

The present study examined whether specific affect-relevant motivations for alcohol use (i.e., coping, enhancement) are associated with distinct types of consequences, and whether such associations occur directly, or only as a function of increased alcohol use. 

It was hypothesized that enhancement motives would be associated with distinct problem types only through alcohol use, whereas coping motives would be linked directly to hypothesized problem types. 

Regularly drinking undergraduates (N = 192, 93 female) completed self-report measures of drinking motives and alcohol involvement. Using structural equation modeling, we tested direct associations between coping motives and indirect associations between enhancement motives and eight unique alcohol problem domains: risky behaviors, blackout drinking, physiological dependence, academic/occupational problems, poor self-care, diminished self-perception, social/interpersonal problems, and impaired control. 

We observed direct effects of coping motives on three unique problem domains (academic/occupational problems, risky behaviors, and poor self-care). 

Both coping and enhancement motives were indirectly associated (through use) with several problem types. 

Unhypothesized associations between conformity motives and unique consequence types also were observed. 

Findings suggest specificity in the consequences experienced by individuals who drink to cope with negative affect versus to enhance positive affect, and may have intervention implications. 

Findings depict the coping motivated student as one who is struggling across multiple domains, regardless of levels of drinking. Such students may need to be prioritized for interventions.

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Comparison of participatively set and assigned goals in the reduction of alcohol use.

The effects of setting goals on goal commitment, self-efficacy for goal achievement, and goal achievement in the context of an alcohol use intervention were examined using an experimental design in which participants were randomized to participatively set goals, assigned goals, and no goal conditions. 

One hundred and twenty-six heavy-drinking college students received a single cognitive-behavioral assessment/intervention session and completed measures of goal commitment, self-efficacy for goal achievement, and alcohol use. 

Results were consistent with, and expanded upon, previous research by demonstrating that having a goal for limiting alcohol consumption was predictive of lower quantity and frequency of alcohol use relative to not having a goal.

Participation in goal setting yielded greater goal commitment and self-efficacy for goal achievement than assigned goals, but did not result in significantly greater reductions in alcohol use relative to assigned goals. 

Goal commitment and self-efficacy explained unique variance in the prediction of alcohol use at follow-up. 

Findings support the importance of goal setting in alcohol interventions and suggest areas for further research.

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Improving the effectiveness of computer-delivered personalized drinking feedback interventions for college students.

This study evaluated methods of enhancing college students' retention of information provided to them in a computer-delivered personalized drinking feedback intervention and whether enhanced retention reduced alcohol consumption during the two-week period following the intervention. 

Participants were 98 college students who reported at least one heavy drinking episode in the past two weeks. After participating in an online, personalized drinking feedback intervention, students were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions: 1) typical, in which they were simply sent home, 2) reading, in which they were asked to spend the next 20 minutes re-reading the feedback, and 3) recall, in which they were asked to spend the next 20 minutes writing down as much of the information from the feedback as they could remember. Two weeks following the intervention, participants completed a recall test and provided information on their alcohol use during the previous two weeks. 

Results indicated that participants in the reading and recall conditions retained more of the feedback information than did participants in the typical condition. In addition, participants in the reading and recall conditions reported reduced alcohol consumption in the two-week period following the intervention, compared to those in the typical condition. 

Information retention partially mediated the effects of the reading and recall conditions on drinking outcomes.

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The effect of marriage on young adult heavy drinking and its mediators: Results from two methods of adjusting for selection into marriage.

This study tested the effect of marriage on young adult heavy drinking and tested whether this effect was mediated by involvement in social activities, religiosity, and self-control reasons for limiting drinking. 

The sample of 508 young adults was taken from an ongoing longitudinal study of familial alcoholism that over-sampled children of alcoholics (Chassin, Rogosch, & Barrera, 1991). In order to distinguish role socialization effects of marriage from confounding effects of role selection into marriage, analyses used both the analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) method and the change score method of adjusting for pre-marriage levels of heavy drinking and the mediators. 

Results showed role socialization effects of marriage on post-marriage declines in heavy drinking. This effect was mediated by involvement in social activities such that marriage predicted decreased involvement in social activities, which in turn predicted decreased heavy drinking. There were no statistically significant mediated effects of religiosity. 

The mediated effect of self-control reasons for limiting drinking was supported by the ANCOVA method only, and further investigation suggested that this result was detected erroneously due to violation of an assumption of the ANCOVA method that is not shared by the change score method. 

Findings from this study offer an explanation for the maturing out of heavy drinking that takes place for some individuals over the course of young adulthood. 

Methodologically, results suggest that the ANCOVA method should be employed with caution, and that the change score method is a viable approach to confirming results from the ANCOVA method. 

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Polish Expert Conference 'Alcohol Policy in Poland and around Europe', 11-12 October 2011, Poznan Poland

The State Agency for Prevention of Alcohol Related Problems is organising an expert conference which will continue on the themes touched upon at the Swedish Presidency Expert Conference. It will be an opportunity to discuss the future of the Alcohol Strategy among policy makers at European, national and municipality levels as well as scientist, public health experts and representatives of the civil society. 

The main themes of the conference will include:
- alcohol and cancer
- alcohol and heart disease
- alcohol and liver
- alcohol and violence
- economic aspect of alcohol related harm
- FASD diagnosis and prevention 

Conference will focus on evidence based policy recommendations and recent research findings. 
> > > >  Read More

Monday, January 3, 2011

Alcohol News - 1/2011

Helsinki Times (Finland) - Many Finnish parents drink too much alcohol
From the child's perspective, too much alcohol is consumed in one in four Finnish homes, the A-Clinic Foundation said on Thursday.
Read more
YLE (Finland) - Alcohol Consumption Falls in Finland
Finns drank less alcohol this year than last. However, if alcohol tax is not raised, consumption might yet exceed recent records, says Valvira, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health.
Read more
IceNews (Iceland) - Higher alcohol and fuel prices for Iceland
The price of alcoholic drinks and petrol and diesel are set to increase from 1st January as another tax hike takes hold. Weary Icelandic consumers can take some comfort in the fact that the price rises will be smaller than previous increases since the banking crisis.
Read more
Reuters - Family history of alcoholism raises obesity risk
People with a family history of alcoholism may be turning to high-calorie treats instead of booze to satisfy their addiction, U.S. researchers say, a change that could be fueling the obesity epidemic.
Read more
USA Today (USA) - More underage drinkers end up in ER on New Year's
Alcohol-related New Year's celebrations send an alarmingly high number of young people to hospital emergency rooms, says a report out today.
Read more
Ivanhoe - Alcohol Consumption Increases Amphetamine Abuse
Amphetamines are drugs known as stimulants, and are commonly abused in the U.S. This study shows that the amount of alcohol consumed may increase the likelihood of developing drug abuse, which can be used in helping to understand treatment challenges.
Read more (USA) - Alcohol: Limit access, prevent excess
U.S. public health experts propose protecting public health by limiting the days and hours alcohol can be sold.
Read more
BBC News (Scotland) - Call to 'tag' bottles of alcohol in Scotland
Scottish Labour have called on local licensing boards to enforce the "tagging" of bottles of alcohol to help reduce under-age drinking.
Read more (UK) - Unhealthy lifestyle 'ingrained by age 16'
A sedentary lifestyle, bad eating habits and alcohol consumption all kick in by the age of 19, but researchers found that 16 was the 'tipping point' for this type of behaviour.
Read more
Herald Sun (Australia) - Alcohol behind almost all murders in Queensland, figures reveal
ALMOST every murder committed in Queensland during the past year was suspected to involve alcohol, crime statistics show.
Read more
New Zealand Herald (New Zealand) - PM's posers stall alcohol cuts
The Government believes New Zealand drivers aren't ready to moderate their drinking. We know they are. So take responsibility for keeping our roads safe by signing up: Two Drinks Max.
Read more
Times of India - Binge drinking ups future depression risk
Researchers at the Loyola University Health System have found that exposing adolescent rats to binge amounts of alcohol permanently altered the system that produces hormones in response to stress.
Read more
San Francisco Chronicle - Parenting style can determine teen drinking habits
Most parents agree that they don't want their teenagers drinking heavily. Although parents don't always agree on what deters a teen from filling up cup after cup at a high school keg party.
Read more
AsiaOne (Thailand) - Alcohol banned in 110 parks
Most of Thailand's 110 national parks, including Khao Yai, have been declared alcohol-free zones. Not only will there be a ban on booze sales, but visitors will also be barred from bringing alcoholic drinks into the parks.
Read more
Zee News (Sri Lanka) - No free treatment for alcohol-linked ailments: Lanka govt
State hospitals in Sri Lanka, which otherwise provide free treatment, will now make patients pay for treating ailments related to alcohol consumption.
Read more
Focus Infomation (Spain) - Tougher traffic laws cut road deaths in Spain
The government credits the introduction of tough new road laws as well as the greater use of alcohol checkpoints and speed scanners for the decline in deaths from road accidents.
Read more

Sensation Seeking, Risk Behaviors, and Alcohol Consumption Among Mexican Origin Youth

To examine factors associated with ever use of alcohol among Mexican origin youth.

Using a prospective study design, we followed 1,053 Mexican origin adolescents. Participants completed two surveys in their homes and three follow-up telephone interviews, every 6–8 months, in between. The second home survey was completed 30 months (SD = 4.8 months) after baseline. Acculturation, subjective social status, and family cohesion were assessed at baseline and final home visit. Ever drinking, risk behaviors, and sensation-seeking tendencies were assessed at the final home visit only.

Overall, 30% of the study participants reported ever drinking alcohol. 

Multivariate models revealed that being female, increasing age, lower levels of acculturation, family cohesion and subjective social status, higher sensation-seeking tendencies, and concomitantly engaging in three or four other risk behaviors were associated with ever drinking. Also, social disinhibition, an aspect of sensation seeking, mediated the relationship between engaging in other risk behaviors and alcohol use. 

This is consistent with previous research, suggesting that social disinhibition is a common factor that underlies the use of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and other problem behaviors.

The results of this study support taking a family-based approach to prevention that includes discussion of other risk behaviors, especially smoking, among Mexican origin youth. In addition, tailoring programs by gender, directly addressing how changes in social norms resulting from acculturation can affect a youth's decision to drink alcohol and underlying gender-based differences in why youth drink could improve the efficacy of preventive interventions.

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Web-based alcohol screening and brief intervention for Maori and non-Maori: the New Zealand e-SBINZ trials

Hazardous drinking is a leading modifiable cause of mortality and morbidity among young people. Screening and brief intervention (SBI) is a key strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm in the community, and web-based approaches (e-SBI) have advantages over practitioner-delivered approaches, being cheaper, more acceptable, administrable remotely and infinitely scalable. An efficacy trial at a single university showed that this 10-minute intervention could reduce drinking by 11% for at least 6 months among 17-24 year-old undergraduate hazardous drinkers. 

The e-SBINZ study is designed to examine the effectiveness of e-SBI across a range of universities and among Maori and non-Maori students in New Zealand.

The e-SBINZ study comprises two parallel, double blind, multi-site, individually randomised controlled trials. This paper outlines the background and design of the trials, which are recruiting 17-24 year-old students from seven of New Zealand's eight universities. Maori and non-Maori students are being sampled separately and are invited by e-mail to complete a web questionnaire including the AUDIT-C. Those who score >4 will be randomly allocated to no further contact until follow-up (control) or to assessment and personalised feedback (intervention) via computer. Follow-up assessment will occur 5 months later in second semester. Recruitment, consent, randomisation, intervention and follow-up are all online. Primary outcomes are (i) total alcohol consumption, (ii) frequency of drinking, (iii) amount consumed per typical drinking occasion, (iv) the proportions exceeding medical guidelines for acute and chronic harm, and (v) scores on an academic problems scale.

The trial will provide information on the effectiveness of e-SBI in reducing hazardous drinking across diverse university student populations with separate effect estimates for Maori and non-Maori students.

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The combined effect of smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol on cause-specific mortality: a 30 year cohort study

Smoking and consuming alcohol are both related to increased mortality risk. Their combined effects on cause-specific mortality were investigated in a prospective cohort study.

Participants were 5771 men aged 35-64, recruited during 1970-73 from various workplaces in Scotland. Data were obtained from a questionnaire and a screening examination. Causes of death were all cause, coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, alcohol-related, respiratory and smoking-related cancer. Participants were divided into nine groups according to their smoking status (never, ex or current) and reported weekly drinking (none, 1-14 units and 15 or more). Cox proportional hazards models were used to obtain relative rates of mortality, adjusted for age and other risk factors.

In 30 years of follow-up, 3083 men (53.4%) died. Compared with never smokers who did not drink, men who both smoked and drank 15+ units/week had the highest all-cause mortality (relative rate=2.71 (95% confidence interval 2.31-3.19)). Relative rates for CHD mortality were high for current smokers, with a possible protective effect of some alcohol consumption in never smokers. Stroke mortality increased with both smoking and alcohol consumption. Smoking affected respiratory mortality with little effect of alcohol. Adjusting for a wide range of confounders attenuated the relative rates but the effects of alcohol and smoking still remained. Premature mortality was particularly high in smokers who drank 15 or more units, with a quarter of the men not surviving to age 65. 30% of men with manual occupations both smoked and drank 15+ units/week compared with only 13% with non-manual ones.

Smoking and drinking 15+ units/week was the riskiest behaviour for all causes of death. 

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Alcohol and Aldehyde Dehydrogenase Polymorphisms and a New Strategy for Prevention and Screening for Cancer in the Upper Aerodigestive Tract in East Asians

The ethanol in alcoholic beverages and the acetaldehyde associated with alcohol consumption are Group 1 human carcinogens (WHO, International Agency for Research on Cancer).

The combination of alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, the inactive heterozygous aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 genotype (ALDH2*1/*2) and the less-active homozygous alcohol dehydrogenase-1B genotype (ADH1B*1/*1) increases the risk of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in the upper aerodigestive tract (UADT) in a multiplicative fashion in East Asians.

In addition to being exposed to locally high levels of ethanol, the UADT is exposed to a very high concentration of acetaldehyde from a variety of sources, including that as an ingredient of alcoholic beverages per se and that found in tobacco smoke; acetaldehyde is also produced by salivary microorganisms and mucosal enzymes and is present as blood acetaldehyde.

The inefficient degradation of acetaldehyde by weakly expressed ALDH2 in the UADT may be critical to the local accumulation of acetaldehyde, especially in ALDH2*1/*2 carriers.

ADH1B*1/*1 carriers tend to experience less intense alcohol flushing and are highly susceptible to heavy drinking and alcoholism. Heavy drinking by persons with the less-active ADH1B*1/*1 leads to longer exposure of the UADT to salivary ethanol and acetaldehyde.

The ALDH2*1/*2 genotype is a very strong predictor of synchronous and metachronous multiple SCCs in the UADT. High red cell mean corpuscular volume (MCV), esophageal dysplasia, and melanosis in the UADT, all of which are frequently found in ALDH2*1/*2 drinkers, are useful for identifying high-risk individuals.

We invented a simple flushing questionnaire that enables prediction of the ALDH2 phenotype. New health appraisal models that include ALDH2 genotype, the simple flushing questionnaire, or MCV are powerful tools for devising a new strategy for prevention and screening for UADT cancer in East Asians.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Alcohol and public health policies in India

Extreme policies of prohibition or the current permissive strategies are counterproductive and call for a nuanced public health approach that integrates both the regulation of availability of alcohol as well as helps in rigorously enforcing the law.

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Year in Review: Alcohol news in 2010


January 1
(Russia) Trying to break Russia's vodka dependence
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is hoping for some New Year's resolution among his countrymen, as he takes on one of Russia's most deeply-entrenched and prickliest problems – alcoholism. From 1 January, restrictions on the price of vodka in Russia come into force.
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January 12
(Scotland) Alcohol abuse 'costs every Scot £900 a year'
Alcohol misuse could be costing every adult in Scotland £900 every year, according to a new report. York University economists said the problem may be costing taxpayers between £2.4bn and £4.6bn.
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January 28
(UK) Alcohol-related deaths in Britain rising fast
Alcohol-related deaths in Britain have more than doubled over the past 16 years, official statistics showed Thursday, with those in managerial and professional jobs regularly drinking more than manual workers.
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February 1
Booze-related violence on the rise among youths
The number of alcohol-fuelled acts of violence by youths in Germany has seen a stunning increase over the last decade, a new study released on Monday showed.
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February 22
(Israel) Vodka most popular alcoholic drink in Israel
Israelis drank more alcohol in 2009 and drink vodka more than any other alcoholic beverage, according to a survey conducted by the BDI business information company.
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February 22
(Australia) Alcohol industry 'infiltrating' government bodies, policies
THE alcohol industry is infiltrating government bodies and influencing policies, a public health expert says. Public Health Association of Australia president Professor Mike Daube says the industry is as bad as "Big Tobacco" when it comes to pushing their wares.
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February 22
(UK) 'Children, Young People and Alcohol' DCSF report published
The report 'Children, Young People and Alcohol' aims to better understand parents’ and young people’s attitudes and behaviour towards alcohol and alcohol consumption. The research was also designed to investigate how children’s behaviour may be influenced by their parent’s attitudes and behaviour towards alcohol.
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February 25
Anti-booze adverts 'raise alcohol use'Advertising campaigns that warn against alcohol abuse can actually spur increase in drinking among target audiences, claims a new study. The research from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Research.
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March 19
Alcohol worse than drugs in Pacific: report
Alcohol abuse is a bigger problem for Pacific communities than drugs, according to an Australian report, which links drinking to domestic violence and wide-ranging health problems.
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March 23
(Russia) Vodka drinking is top killer of Russians: study
Russia's heavy consumption of cheap, strong alcoholic beverages is the key factor behind the low life expectancy of its citizens, a leading Russian institute said in a study released Tuesday.
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April 12
Adolescent drinking adds to risk of breast disease, breast cancer
Girls and young women who drink alcohol increase their risk of benign (noncancerous) breast disease, says a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Harvard University. Benign breast disease increases the risk for developing breast cancer.
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April 12
(EU) Alcohol consumption is falling in most big European countries
ACROSS Europe, economies are stagnating and unemployment is climbing. Reason enough, you might think, to hit the bottle. Europeans put away over nine litres of alcohol a year per person, twice the global average. The European Commission has declared that alcohol is a “key public-health and social concern”. Yet in most big EU countries drinking is in decline.
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April 12
Drinking spreads in social networks
Social networks can be powerful, influencing such important health behaviors as gaining weight or quitting smoking, Harvard researchers have reported in a series of studies. Now the same team says that how much alcohol an individual drinks is affected by relatives and friends, a conclusion that has implications for how to help problem drinkers.
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April 12
(UK) Report: Expensive Health Campaigns Fail To Curb Britons’ Excessive Eating, Drinking
A report by independent British health charity the King’s Fund assesses the performance of the government’s National Health Service to guide voters about to cast their ballot on May 6 for the next government.
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April 13
Fetal alcohol disorders common in Eastern Europe adoptees
Many children adopted from Eastern European countries may have been exposed to damaging levels of alcohol in the womb, a new study suggests.
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May 2
(Denmark) Young Danes dying from alcohol abuse
A new study has confirmed the image of heavy drinking Danes, with reports of 25 youths dying from alcohol abuse since 2002.
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May 3
(Sweden) Sweden Fighting Teenage Alcohol Abuse
The attitude of parents is a vital factor in the fight against alcohol abuse among teenagers Swedish agencies say. The Swedish National Institute of Public Health has joined forces with national police in a year-long campaign against buying alcohol for teenagers.
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May 19
Alcohol Companies Use New Media to Lure Young Drinkers: Report
Alcohol companies are increasingly using the latest new media technologies -- including cell phones, social networking sites, YouTube and other features of the expanding digital universe -- to reach young drinkers, a new report contends.
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May 20
(WHO) WHO to tackle alcohol misuse, binge drinking
Health ministers agreed on Thursday to try to curb binge drinking and other growing forms of excessive alcohol use through higher taxes on alcoholic drinks and tighter marketing regulations. The global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol was adopted by consensus at the annual assembly of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
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May 23
(WHO) Alcohol kills 2.5 million people worldwide: WHO
Harmful use of alcohol kills 2.5 million people annually and is the eighth leading factor for deaths globally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said. Of the 2.5 million people, 320,000 people are between 15 and 29 years of age, it said.
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June 11
(UK) Knighthood for alcohol campaigner
The head of the Royal College of Physicians, who has campaigned for measures to tackle alcohol misuse, has been knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
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June 22
(EU) 4th European Alcohol Policy Conference : "From capacity to action"
The Fourth European Alcohol Policy Conference was held on 21 and 22 June 2010 by Eurocare, the European Alcohol Policy Alliance. The aim of the Conference was to gather people from a broad range of sectors to exchange and communicate on alcohol-related issues and policies aiming at effectively preventing and reducing alcohol-related harm.
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June 28
(New Zealand) Six-fold surge in deaths from alcohol
The number of alcohol-related deaths investigated by the Coroner's Office has increased dramatically, mostly due to binge drinking. In the eight years to 2008, the toll rose by more than six times to 254.
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July 5
(Africa) Global brewers hope to tap a new market: Africa
As economic development and political stability pull more people out of poverty, multinational beer makers are trying to quench their growing thirst for alcohol.
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August 2
(USA) Number of Americans Drinking Alcohol Hits 25-Year High
The number of adults in the U.S. drinking alcohol has hit a 25-year high, the New York Daily News reported Sunday, as the nation continues to experience economic instability.
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August 7
Alcohol: the forgotten drug in HIV/AIDSAlcohol has long been recognised as an important contributor to illness and injury, accounting for 4% of the global burden of disease. 1 Yet alcohol remains conspicuously absent from the larger field of research and programming in HIV and substance use.
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August 14
(Canada) Lawyers call for ‘decriminalization’ of fetal alcohol offendersPeople who suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome and commit criminal offences don’t belong in jail, Canada’s largest lawyers’ organization says.
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August 23
(New Zealand) New Zealand proposes new rules on alcohol salesNew Zealand's government has proposed several changes to alcohol laws in a bid to curb youth drinking.
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August 23
(Australia) Alcohol costs Australia $36 billion/year: reportA new report on the harm caused by alcohol misuse in Australia claims the economic cost amounts to a staggering $36 billion a year. That's more than double previous estimates.
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August 30
Alcohol-related harm, a global issueThe Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the South Pacific Community(SPC) are taking the lead in organizing a historical two days workshop on the 25th and 26th this week at the Quality Inn. The Workshop was first of its kind in the country to develop a Multi-Sect oral National Alcohol Policy for our country Solomon Islands.
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September 1
(Iceland) Alcohol Ad Laws TightenedA bill submitted to parliament may close loopholes that alcohol importers and manufacturers have used in the current Icelandic law banning the advertising of alcoholic beverages.
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September 3
(Kenya) Kenyan market frets over impact of new alcohol lawA new Kenyan alcohol law could open up East African Breweries (EABL.NR) to competition, with micro-brewers springing up to capitalise on the legalisation of traditional liquors, analysts said.
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September 4
(Sweden) Privatizing Retail Alcohol Sales in Sweden Will Escalate Alcohol-Related Violence
Privatizing Sweden's government monopoly on the sale of alcohol, a study published today in the scientific journal Addiction argues, will significantly increase alcohol-related violence and other harms.
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September 23
(Scotland) Minimum alcohol price plans defeated by MSPsMSPs have rejected the Scottish government's proposal to introduce a minimum price for alcohol. The Scottish National Party's (SNP's) flagship policy would have seen a minimum price of 45p per unit of alcohol introduced across Scotland in a bid to tackle the country's well-documented problem with alcohol.
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September 30
(Austria) One in four students may be alcoholics, doctors warnAround 25 per cent of university and college students could be alcoholics, according to a new study.
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(UK) The impact of introducing a Minimum Price on Alcohol in BritainOn 2nd September 2010 the Scottish Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, proposed a minimum price per unit of alcohol set at 45p.1 Minimum pricing was part of a wider Alcohol Bill in front of the Scottish Parliament2 and was the first time a figure had been set. However, minimum pricing was recently defeated at the committee stage and may not now be introduced, though the minority SNP Government still supports the measure.
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October 8
Facebook Implements Additional Alcohol Advertisement GuidelinesFacebook updated its advertisement policy guidelines with significant new restrictions to ads for or depicting alcohol last month. All alcohol ads must be targeted by country, cannot target any users in a set of predominantly Middle Eastern countries, and can’t include creative that misleads users to think alcohol is healthy, suitable for minors, or a contributor to success.
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October 17
(Czech Republic) Young Czechs lead in alcohol consumptionAlcohol consumption of underage Czechs is the highest in Europe, according to both European studies, and this is why the government is to approve a new action plan of the fight against alcohol and drugs, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) writes yesterday.
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October 19
(Norway) Norway’s ‘no-no’ to alcohol ads could be corkedTV channels transmitting from abroad with content aimed at Norwegian viewers are not permitted to advertise alcohol under current Norwegian legislation, but this could contravene European law.
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October 22
(EU) EU Mulls Booze Warning LabelsBrussels is a battlefield of rule-making; there are always a thousand small skirmishes taking place off-camera, many with an impact on your future and the bottom lines of big companies. Take alcohol. The European Union is due to revise its strategy on alcohol-related harm in 2012, setting up a fight between the beer, wine and spirits industry and those seeking policies that crack down on drunken driving, addiction, and binge and underage drinking.
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November 1
Alcohol is more harmful than heroin or crack: studyAlcohol is even worse than heroin and crack on the list of "most harmful" drugs, according to a new study published in the British medical journal, The Lancet. A variety of social, physical and psychological problems that are caused by drugs were examined by a panel of experts, who concluded that alcohol, heroin and crack were the most harmful to others while heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine were the most harmful to individual users, CNN reported.
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November 1
(Sweden) Efforts to curb youth drinking 'ineffective”A new report released on Monday has questioned the efficacy of the Swedish government's investment of about 900 million kronor ($135.81 million) over the last 10 years in reducing youth alcohol consumption.
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November 8
(Estonia) State Sets Alcohol Consumption Target to Eight LitersEstonia should set a target to decrease its alcohol consumption to eight liters per person annually, asserted the National Institute for Health, an agency of the Ministry of Social Affairs.
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November 10
(Scotland) MSPs reject alcohol minimum pricingPlans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol have been finally killed off by the Scottish
Parliament as MSPs passed legislation aimed at tackling the country’s binge drinking epidemic.
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November 15
(USA) Alcohol-related emergency room visits skyrocket in New York: 74,000 in 2009
Heavy boozing has caused a shocking spike in drunken injuries and emergency room visits in New York, a troubling new study says. Nearly 74,000 people wound up in hospitals in 2009 for alcohol-related reasons, compared with just 22,000 in 2003 - a jump of nearly 250%, said the city Health Department study, which was released yesterday.
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November 24
(Canada) Bureaucrats face new booze rulesTreasury Board President Stockwell Day announced new rules for hospitality expenses for the public service, including a ban on expensing alcohol other than "situations that are necessary for the rules for protocol."
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(Finland) An attempt to ban evocative alcohol advertisingIn summer 2009 the Finnish Government set up a working group to evaluate, among others, whether restrictions on evocative (visual) alcohol advertising were necessary. The working group finished its work in summer 2010 and concluded that no additional measures were needed concerning evocative alcohol advertising.
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December 6
Google Adjusts AdWords Alcohol Policy
Google has made changes to its advertising policy on alcohol for AdWords. The company now allows ads to promote the sale of hard alcohol and liquor.
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December 7
(Fiji) Cigarettes and alcohol abuse kills: MinistryMore then 82% of Fiji’s population die of non-communicable diseases says the Health Ministry and two major contributing factors are the excessive use of cigarettes and alcohol.
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December 7
For the first time in the European Parliament, the MEPs Against Cancer (MAC) interest group hosted a meeting to evaluate the cancer hazards of alcoholic beverages, and the potential impact of this knowledge on alcohol-related policy in order to address concerns over a lack of public awareness about the carcinogenicity of alcohol.
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December 11
(EU) Liver experts’ consensus: European citizens are drinking themselves to death
New research and measures to tackle societal alcohol consumption are to be announced at liver disease conference Athens, Greece, Saturday 11th December 2010: Europe is failing to deal with the life-threatening effects of excessive and regular alcohol consumption on its citizens’ health.
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December 15
(USA) Over the Limit: Underage Kids See More Alcohol Ads
A new study claims a rise in TV alcohol advertising to underage young viewers -- and that the distilled spirits industry has breached its self-imposed limits. The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says there was a 71% rise between 2001 and 2009 in TV alcohol commercials seen by young viewers, 12 to 20 years old.
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December 23
(Lithuania) Alcohol excise tax not to be cut in Lithuania
The Seimas in Lithuania has supported the presidential veto, refusing to reduce the excise duty on alcoholic beverages.
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