Reblogged: Technology and Recovery within the Homeless Population

This is reblogged from the excellent the in2recovery online community and website managed by Michaela Jones, who is also one of the founder members of the Dry Umbrella Bar in Manchester.

I’ve reblogged it because I think it says great things about the use of technology to support recovery online and reaching hard to reach groups such as the homeless population.

Guest Blog, Dr Caral Brown: Technology and Recovery within the Homeless Population

After completing a research project that used an online recovery programme and spending copious amounts of my own time on line using my various social networks I do sometimes wonder how I would cope without constant access to the internet. 

After I attended some conferences on technology in recovery and asked the audience about their own use of technology and social media I wondered how those who did not use it coped with their lack of connection.

Especially after my research revealed that many vulnerable homeless drug users use the internet frequently and are part of different social networks. Aside from that many more use technology in various ways and indeed on a regular, often more than daily basis.

But of course they do, they aren’t terribly different from any of us without an addiction.

Importantly though there are many who need a little helping hand to get online/ involved in technology. 

At these conferences I have learned that there are many more recovery communities, groups and software available on the internet than I previously thought.

There are also many service providers who are keen to enable service users and help them get involved but just don’t know how or feel a bit too constrained or busy.

My advice here is to just do it, grab a computer and explore, encourage someone to get online or take that step and do it yourself. Once that first door is opened, it’s likely many more will follow.

Building connections is important and there are lots of supportive connections online. Using technology in recovery is clearly a way forward, for all addictions.

Some key messages are that first, there needs to be good quality access to computers and the internet. Second, dealing with sensitive issues can be incredibly difficult and so privacy is important and third, for those who are not software engineers, a little help and advice along the way might mean the difference between giving up and sticking with it.

Dr Caral Brown – Research Fellow, Oxford Brookes University

Alcohol Poisoning Kills 6 Americans a Day

Time Magazine UK ran an interesting report earlier this month looking at deaths in the US caused by alcohol poisoning with findings that 6 people were being killed a day.

Here’s the full article:

CDC says alcohol poisoning deaths are a greater problem than previously thought

America has a drinking problem, with 2,200 people dying each year from alcohol poisoning. That’s an average of six alcohol-related deaths a day, a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report says.

Alcohol poisoning happens when people drink an excessive amount of alcohol in a short amount of time, causing high levels of alcohol in the body to interfere with and even shutdown parts of the brain that are critical for controlling vitals like heart rate, body temperature, and breathing. Eventually, that can lead to death.

Over 38 million Americans binge drink an average of four times a month, and consume an average of eight drinks per binge, according to the new CDC Vital Signs report. Interestingly, the report shows that the majority of alcohol poisoning deaths happen in adults between the ages of 35 and 64, and 76% of those who die are men, revealing binge drinking is not a behavior solely observed among young people. The CDC reports that while the most deaths occur among non-Hispanic whites, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the most deaths per million people. The death rates also vary widely state to state. For example, alcohol poisoning deaths in Alaska add up to 46.5 deaths per million residents, and in Alabama it’s 5.3 per million residents.

The CDC says the report shows alcohol poisoning deaths are a greater problem than previously believed, and that the numbers are likely an underestimate since alcohol-related deaths are known to be under-reported. Alcoholism was a factor in 30% of the deaths and other drug use was a factor in only 3%.

“Alcohol poisoning deaths are a heartbreaking reminder of the dangers of excessive alcohol use, which is a leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S.,” CDC principal deputy director Ileana Arias said in a statement.

In response, the CDC is calling for more members of the medical community to screen and talk to their patients about alcohol, since numbers show only one in six U.S. adults has reported ever talked about their drinking with a health professional. States with stronger alcohol policies also have less binge drinking, and should partner with community workers including police and health workers for better programs, CDC says.

I find that figure quite shocking myself and would be interested to hear what my sober American friends think in the comments.

Alcohol hotspots of Great Britain revealed

This article was in the Daily Mail in early January and reported on some research carried out by NHS Health Scotland in a study looking at the alcohol hotspots of Great Britain.  If you would like to read the research article you can do so here.

The news feature contained this nifty map (click to enlarge) which shows the damage alcohol is causing around the country”.  Edited highlights of the article below:

2475040900000578-2899297-This_map_shows_the_alcohol_hotspots_of_Great_Britain_The_boxes_r-a-2_1420587492198

The study, by NHS Health Scotland, was the first to analyse alcohol sales data, an indicator of alcohol consumption, as well as alcohol-related deaths.

It found people in the South West, Central Scotland, North East, North West and Yorkshire were the biggest boozers, with higher levels of alcohol sales per adult than the average for Great Britain.

The high volume of sales in South West England (19 per cent higher than the national average) was mostly due to spirits and cider sold through pubs and restaurants, but sales of wine through supermarkets and other off-licences were also high.  However while the South West region had the joint highest consumption level, it had one of the lowest alcohol death rates.  Researchers at NHS Health Scotland and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health suggested that this could be due to tourism.  The South West, which was defined by the study as mainly Devon and Cornwall, had one of the smallest populations but also one of the highest rates of second homes.  People who visit this area but do not live there would increase the sales figures for alcohol and would not show up for alcohol-related deaths.

There is also a nice table that shows market share percentage of spirits, beer, wine and cider/perry sold in each region too which is interesting and worth a look

All previous studies have looked at alcohol consumption for regions in Great Britain based on self-reported data, which can be biased because of low response rates, the sample taken not being representative, and because people do not accurately report how much they drank.

The use of alcohol sales data is a more accurate and objective way to estimate how much the country is really drinking.

However, researchers warned this data is still subject to its own biases, such as wastage and spillage; consumption by tourists; and unrecorded alcohol, which includes homebrew, smuggled alcohol and alcohol intended for industrial and medical use.

The study’s lead Mark Robinson, of NHS Health Scotland, said: ‘Our study provides support for the relationship between alcohol consumption and alcohol-related mortality across regions in Great Britain, which hasn’t always been the case using survey data to estimate consumption.  Future studies should consider the use of data from a range of different sources to provide a better understanding of alcohol consumption in GB, its relationship with alcohol-related harms, and the impact of different alcohol policy approaches.’

This was an interesting read and I had not even thought of the impact of tourism on rates of consumption locally.  Variation in types of drinks also confirmed regional favourites with Scotland having higher spirits sales, the North more beer,  East Anglia, South East and London more wine and the Southwest more cider and perry.

84% of motorists support alcohol immobilisers on cars

Almost 84% of UK motorists would support the introduction of technology designed to immobilise vehicles if sensors detect that the driver is over the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit. 

The result comes as part of a motoring safety innovations survey by National Windscreens. 

This figure makes particularly interesting reading for insurers looking to reduce the costs of drink driving related incidents and is especially significant when combined with the fact that 66% would specify additional technologies when buying a new vehicle, specifically to benefit from discounted insurance premiums.

The level of support for alcohol detection devices is in stark contrast to the 39% of respondents who stated they would support the introduction of technology designed to make it impossible to exceed the speed limit.

These findings are very timely with the recent reduction of the BAC limit for drivers in Scotland earlier this month and the festive season’s imminent arrival, putting drink driving high on the national agenda.

National Windscreens commercial director, Pete Marsden said: “These results clearly demonstrate the high level of support for innovation designed to minimise drink driving. There is a clear opportunity for insurers to capitalise on this support with premiums that differentiate between vehicles with and without this safety feature.”

According to the Department for Transport, despite significant reductions in recent years there were still 230 UK deaths attributed to drink driving in 2012. And with alcohol cited as the cause for 6630 road accidents per annum, in addition to the human cost this issue obviously has huge financial implications for the motor insurance industry.

Marsden added: “Drink driving is still a significant cause for concern for both motorists and insurers – our survey suggests that any innovations which can help reduce the number of accidents caused by alcohol would be welcomed by drivers throughout the UK.”  

 Read the full story here
I think it’s great this technology is being considered but wonder whether the 84% who were supportive had thought about the repercussions not only to their night time driving but their early morning driving too?  Particularly when a fifth of drivers said that take the wheel after a heavy night’s drinking despite the risk of still being over the drink-drive limit.
Daisy recently shared this brilliant guide to how long it takes for the body to metabolise alcohol and these BAC monitors will impact on driving irrespective of what time of day it is …….
alcohol clear time
What do you think?  How do you feel about the BAC monitors?  I’d be happy to declare I was teetotal if it meant lower car insurance premiums :)

Alcohol-related Disease – Questions to Parliament

Ever wondered what politicians and Lords do all day when they’re busy at Westminster?  Well now you can find out and follow along.

This is a debate that went on in December regarding ‘alcohol-related disease’ where questions were put to Parliament in the House of Lords and you can see it here:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to address the increase in alcohol-related disease.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2014-12-17a.170.0#g171.2

So if in the future you ever want to know what our Govt is debating and doing about issues related to alcohol – now you know where to look ;)

 

Is Alcohol Abuse Part of Being British?

This is an interesting post by Castle Craig Blog entitled ‘Is Alcohol Abuse Part of Being British?’  Castle Craig Hospital is a residential alcohol and drug rehab clinic in Scotland.

Here’s their blog from December:

The UK has the reputation of a country with an alcohol problem. Widespread violence after weekend alcohol abuse binges have become a stereotype of British society. 

A recent British Council survey showed that 27 per cent of people abroad think that British people “drink too much alcohol”. The survey, titled “As Others See Us”, was based on 5,000 individual interviews with young people in Brazil, China, Germany, India and the US.

However, a recent study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on alcohol consumption around the globe shows something different: the UK is not even in the top 20 of the world’s heaviest drinking countries. According to the WHO report, the average global citizen consumes 6.5 litres of pure alcohol every year. Belarus came top of the list at 17.5 litres a head, Moldova came second (16.8)and Lithuania third (15.4).

The UK was 25th on the list with an average consumption of 11.6 litres, which is less than Portugal where they drink 12.9 litres per year, France and Australia where they knock back 12.2 litres a year and Germany where the figure is 11.8 litres.

The “British problem” is not actually the amount of alcohol being consumed but the fact that it is associated with high levels of antisocial and violent activity. There are plenty of countries where people drink more than in the UK, where drinking isn’t associated with violent behaviour.

Is it the way Brits are “programmed” to drink?

According to the Institute of Alcohol Studies “there is no simple theoretical model that adequately explains the relationship between alcohol and violence. The vast majority of drinking episodes does not lead to violence, and most violence does not involve drinking.”

It’s not that British people have a different chemical reaction to alcohol, but they have a different attitude towards drinking. Social anthropologist Kate Fox says: “the British believe that alcohol is a disinhibitor, and specifically that it makes people amorous or aggressive…Our beliefs about the effects of alcohol act as self-fulfilling prophecies – if you firmly believe and expect that booze will make you aggressive, then it will do exactly that.”

Can people in Britain change their approach to drinking? Can they become more like the more mild-mannered drinking cultures? Most commentators think this is unlikely.“Britain will never have a Mediterranean drinking culture” writes Ed West in the Daily Telegraph. He points out that this has been a problem for centuries: “at no point in history have northern Europeans, and the British in particular, been known to drink sensibly – as far back as the early medieval period, continental observers spoke with horror about the Anglo-Saxons and their hopeless drunkenness.”

A review of several studies about culture and alcoholism found that there is a big gap in our knowledge and more research is needed: “Although European countries are among the world’s highest consumers of alcohol, the literature review showed that very little research has focused on social and cultural aspects of drinking in Europe…There is a clear and urgent need for large-scale systematic research on social and cultural aspects of drinking in Europe, and for continuous monitoring of shifts and changes in mainstream European drinking-cultures.”

Maybe the UK will never become a Mediterranean drinking culture, but maybe it doesn’t need to. But to kill the myth of the drunk British hooligan another myth needs to die: that binge drinking is as British as fish and chips.

What do you think readers of Caslte Craig’s view and the ‘lager lout’ moniker we seem to not be able to shake?

 

The Lancet Commissions: Screening at risk liver patients

Back in December a conversation in the comments between myself and Lori happened after this post.  I said that I would write a post where I go into greater detail about liver blood tests for her and share it here for anyone else who is interested.  These recommendations detailed below are taken from The Lancet Commission that was discussed in this post and focuses predominantly on primary care screening for at risk liver patients.

Panel 11: Recommendations for engagement of primary care

1 Liver disease should be positioned in primary care within the so-called Big Five chronic, preventable lifestyle-related diseases that share common lifestyle risk factors with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, and renal disease to maximise the effects from generic lifestyle interventions and to coordinate chronic disease management with the introduction of an appropriate funding mechanism.  The shared lifestyle risk factors provide an opportunity to expand the breadth of existing disease monitoring, but without a substantial increase in workload (eg, annual cardiovascular, renal, or diabetic checks that already commonly include liver blood tests)

2 Liver function tests should include measurement of the aspartate aminotransferase (AST) value to allow the calculation of the AST to alanine aminotransferase (ALT) ratio in all samples with an increased ALT and in the proposed diagnostic pathway, with serum γ-glutamyl transpeptidase concentrations and incorporation of liver elastography as a confirmatory test for hepatic fibrosis would distinguish between patients who are most likely to develop progressive liver disease from those who are not, thereby establishing appropriate referral for secondary care.

Key to our proposed diagnostic pathway is the routine inclusion of AST and GGT into the standard panel of tests for liver function when liver disease is clinically suspected. The AST value will enable calculation of the AST/ALT ratio (panel 9), and a score in the non-invasive
algorithm APRI and others in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. GGT concentration is a marker for alcohol intake and had the highest predictive value in terms of subsequent liver disease and mortality in a large community study. Abnormalities in this enzyme can also be used to motivate positive changes in behavioural in people who drink to excess because GGT concentrations rapidly decrease with abstinence from alcohol

Furthermore, the addition of liver elastography to the screening process is very cheap. When a practice nurse uses a portable machine, the cost of elastography is about £20 per scan, less than a tenth of the cost for outpatient referral to a specialist and targeted programmes of screening in the community have been successful (panels 9 and 10).

Use of liver elastography in the diagnostic pathway

Transient liver elastography is the gold standard in the assessment for liver fibrosis. Transient liver elastography directly measures liver stiffness by use of a fibroscan or a modified ultrasound machine and is predictive of liver-related events and death. In a meta-analysis of 7000 patients in more than 50 studies shows the area under the curve analyses (AUROC) for cirrhosis (0·94),severe fibrosis (0·89), or early fibrosis (0·84).

At present, most GPs do not have access to the machines to do liver elastography. However, most new ultrasound machines can be adapted to do liver elastography. This form of assessment should, in our opinion, be included as part of the standard operating procedure for all liver examinations by use of ultrasound requested from primary care. Additional time to include liver elastography per examination is low at possibly 5 min, and extra training needed for the workforce will be small. Furthermore, rapid access assessments by nurses for liver elastography could be organised in the same way that rapid access endoscopy is made available to GPs. Elastography will need to be promoted to the radiological and ultrasound community by the Royal College of Radiologists and British Medical Ultrasound Society. Additionally, portable elastography could be used in the community as reported in the Southampton and Nottingham studies (panel 10). This approach formed part of the very successful Love your Liver workshops organised around the UK by the British Liver Trust successfully raised awareness.

At present the capacity to substantially expand the engagement of GPs in such programmes is restricted, and funding issues will need to be addressed. The Quality and Outcomes Framework (an annual reward and incentive programme detailing GP practice achievement introduced in 2004) is being scaled back rather than expanded and the introduction of a new clinical domain is deemed unlikely. Additionally, valuable lifestyle advice indicators were removed in the governments’ budget of April, 2014, including the targets of giving people with hypertension advice about smoking cessation, safe quantities of alcohol consumption, and a healthy diet.

Development of clear protocols and schedules for investigation, clarification of referral criteria, and additional training programmes will improve the confidence of primary care workers in the management of liver disease. Identification of liver disease in patients at high risk in communities at an early stage will enable effective behavioural interventions
and treatments and will prevent the inexorable progression of liver disease in many cases. Furthermore, by using simple algorithms of existing blood tests to exclude severe liver disease in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and using portable elastography services led by
nurses to identify severe liver disease in primary care, expensive referrals to specialist secondary care clinics can be used more efficiently (panel 11).

You can read the full report here where the panels mentioned and references are detailed in full:

Lancet commissions addressing liver disease in the uk 2014

These recommendations are very straight forward, do not involve a huge amount of additional cost or work, apart from staff training costs which I’m sure could be off-set if liver screening was included into QOF funding clinical domain schedules.  Alas what is actually happening in primary care is the opposite – these are being reduced not increased and alcohol IBA funding is also being removed so there is no financial incentive for GP’s to be engaging in alcohol induced liver health issues.

So to summarise (in non-medical speak!) you need to make sure that your blood test includes AST levels, and ideally GGT levels.  In the UK LFT’s (liver function tests) usually routinely include ALT levels, alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin, total protein and albumin levels.  Also when the blood results are received by the surgery ask for a copy of them!  These are your health records and you are quite within your rights to have a copy of your own blood test results.

And if I could go down to my GP surgery and ask for anything to reassure me about my liver health it would be a liver fibroscan.  I’ll be looking out for the next British Liver Trust ‘Love Your Liver’ UK roadshow and will be stalking them to get this non-invasive diagnostic test done as the likelihood of this being available at my GP surgery anytime soon has two hopes, Bob Hope and no hope ……..

 

 

Dying for a drink: alcohol-related deaths and illness cost us dearly

This article entitled ‘Dying for a drink: alcohol-related deaths and illness cost us dearly‘ was featured in The Guardian prior to Christmas.  It discusses how more needs to be done to raise awareness of the damage that alcohol causes to the NHS and wider society and I couldn’t agree more.

Alcohol is a factor in 8-10% of GP consultations in the UK every day. There are more than 10m alcohol-related visits to the NHS a year. Admissions for alcohol misuse are likely to hit 1.5m a year unless the government steps in to tackle the problem.

The impact of alcohol misuse across the rest of the NHS, in hospitals and in our communities is huge. More than 10 million adults in England now drink more than the recommended daily limit, with 2.6 million drinking more than twice that. As a GP for 30 years, I have witnessed first-hand how alcohol destroys lives. I have seen people who had cirrhosis of the liver or another alcohol-related illness, such as heart disease, as well as those who were injured or assaulted while drunk. My colleagues working in accident and emergency departments tell me that every weekend they see children who have been found unconscious through drink on the street and brought to hospital by the police or the ambulance service.

Alcohol has been linked to more than 25% of serious offences and 35% of all violent offences – how many of those end up in A&E and are admitted to hospitals? The effects of excessive drinking on livers, hearts and waistlines are disastrous. We know under the influence of alcohol people are attacked, have road traffic accidents and have unsafe sex.

Alcohol, in anything but very modest quantities, is potentially a destructive and toxic substance. Your first pint of the day may be beneficial, but your second eliminates the benefit of the first and from then on it is harmful. According to the World Health Organisation, alcohol is the leading risk factor for premature death and disability in developed countries after smoking and high blood pressure. It is related to more than 60 medical conditions – and to violent crime and domestic abuse, destroying families.

Over the centuries, alcohol has become the country’s favourite drug. The introduction of round-the-clock licensing in 2005 has prompted concerns that this has led to an increase in violence and alcohol abuse. The 24-hour drinking legislation has undermined clinician and police efforts to get to grips with this problem.

Society needs to stop marketing the myth of alcohol and start telling the truth: too much alcohol causes huge damage; too much alcohol kills. Yet advertisements offering cut-price drinks are everywhere. Alcohol is marketed through increasingly sophisticated advertising and promotional techniques, including sponsoring sporting events and concerts and through social media sites. There has to be legislation for a comprehensive ban on alcohol advertising, and we need to introduce minimum alcohol pricing to curb the binge drinking culture. There should be freedom of debate about alcohol issues, but there is no reason to concede any freedom to persuade people to harm themselves, especially if the persuasion is motivated by commercial gain.

No one should be in any doubt that the heavy marketing and promotion of alcohol, combined with low prices, encourages young people to drink at levels with which the NHS and society are struggling to cope. Alcohol misuse costs the NHS and the justice system about £25bn every year. That figure covers the cost of healthcare, crime, social disorder and lack of productivity at work attributable to alcohol, including the £2.7bn the NHS spends treating the chronic and acute effects of drinking.

Establishing a minimum price and restricting promotions would be the most effective way to reduce the harm alcohol causes. However, that is unlikely to be enough to change the drinking culture. The historical cultural acceptability of alcohol needs be questioned, starting at primary school level. We also need to get to the root causes of what motivates significant numbers of people who think it is acceptable to go out on Friday and Saturday nights, drink to excess and indulge in antisocial behaviour.

Successive governments have been too complacent about the problem of alcohol abuse – particularly among young people. Apart from investing in alcohol health workers in hospitals, A&E units and GP practices, we need to involve schools, parents, police, local authorities and health professionals in providing better information and education about how alcohol can damage health. Alcohol should have a calorie content label, which may help the nation’s waistlines as well as reduce alcohol consumption. But more needs to be done to raise awareness of both the contents and harms of alcohol. How about having a national alcohol free day between Christmas and new year as a starter? It is high time we stopped dying for a drink.

Cracking first comment to the piece too:

And yet we laugh at people who are drunk, we make hangovers a funny story, we swap stories of drunken activities and its all too acceptable to act like an offensive crazy person – because they are drunk.  To change how people think about alcohol, how accepted its use is in the world, does it need more and more people to get sick? Or can we as a people, stop and have the honesty to look at what it’s really doing to us?   It’s really not funny at all.

 

Alcohol Collateral Damage

This was a phrase which was suggested as a replacement for Passive Drinking by Prof Sir Ian Gilmore at the Alcohol Concern conference last November.  It was felt that there needed to be an expression like passive smoking with tobacco harm that indicated the wider impact that alcohol abuse and dependence can have.

And then in December I was contacted by the outreach team at rehabs.com who shared with me this great infographic called Collateral Damage, How Drug Addiction Affects Families and Friends and you can view it here:

http://www.rehabs.com/explore/addiction-impact-loved-ones/

They analyzed the top addiction-related forums to find out how friends and family members were seeking support and interestingly, they noticed that women are the most common posters, broken down by wife, mother, girlfriend, and sister and that alcohol was by far the most common drug mentioned at almost 35%.

In their email to me they also said ‘I read your recent article, Booze aversion therapy, and I think aversion therapy is really a good idea to use is patients with alcohol addiction. Many would benefit if people are informed with this technique and if many doctors are properly trained to do it.’

I thought their work was a fascinating insight into the issue and underlined to me that women were the largest group going on line, not just to find solutions for themselves, but for loved ones within their family or friendship groups.  It also reinforced to me that the expression alcohol collateral damage might be the right expression even though Prof Gilmore at the conference thought it was perhaps too harsh seeing as it’s original meaning is frequently used as a military term where non-combatants are accidentally or unintentionally killed or wounded (wiki).  I’d be really interested to hear what you think too?

Call for ban on alcohol advertising at sport events in New Zealand & UK

Picked this news story up in the run up to Christmas in the New Zealand press:  Call for ban on alcohol advertising at sport events

The Government has been told to end alcohol sponsorship of sports clubs and ban any advertising of beer, wine and spirits during televised matches by a ministerial forum.  The forum, chaired by former rugby league coach and businessman Graham Lowe, concluded after a two-year inquiry that the total cost of alcohol-related harm in this country was “enough to justify further restrictions on alcohol advertising and sponsorship”.

The six-person panel was set up by former Justice Minister Judith Collins as part of alcohol law reforms in 2012.  In its report, the forum said it had found there was no single drinking culture in New Zealand and many people drank responsibly. It acknowledged that alcohol advertising and sponsorship was just one factor in influencing consumption of alcohol.  But it also recognised an association between exposure to alcohol promotions, an earlier age of initiation to drinking alcohol, and increased consumption.

“In addition, we understand there is compelling evidence that early initiation to drinking alcohol and increased consumption are predictive of, and associated with, increased experience of alcohol-related harm.”

The forum made 14 recommendations designed to reduce young peoples’ exposure to alcohol promotions.  These included major changes to liquor companies’ sponsorship of televised and grassroots sports, including a long-term goal of banning alcohol sponsorship from all sports.  It also recommended banning alcohol advertising during streamed and broadcast sporting events, from events at which more than 10 per cent of the audience was under 18, and further restrictions on the hours at which alcohol adverts could be broadcast on radio and television.

The forum’s report said this would threaten the sustainability of many sporting clubs and events and recommended new initiatives to support sporting, cultural and music events that “might have ordinarily had access to alcohol sponsorship funds”.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said further work would be required on the feasibility and the impact of the proposals.  She said the forum was unable to consider the full effect of the proposals. Officials would report back to her again in mid-2015.  The Association of Alcohol Advertisers expressed concern about the recommendations, saying bans on alcohol promotions were “extreme” and not backed by evidence.

Recommendations:

1. Ban alcohol sponsorship of all streamed and broadcast sports
2. Ban alcohol sponsorship of sports [long-term]
3. Ban alcohol sponsorship (naming rights) at all venues
4. Ban alcohol sponsorship of cultural and music events where 10% or more of participants and audiences are younger than 18
5. Introduce a sponsorship replacement funding programme
6. Introduce a targeted programme to reduce reliance on alcohol sponsorship funding
7. Ban alcohol advertising during streamed and broadcast sporting events
8. Ban alcohol advertising where 10% or more of the audience is younger than 18
9. Further restrict the hours for alcohol advertising on broadcast media
10. Continue to offset remaining alcohol advertising by funding positive messaging across all media
11. Introduce additional restrictions on external advertising on licensed venues and outlets
12. Establish an independent authority to monitor and initiate complaints about alcohol advertising and sponsorship
13. Establish a mechanism to identify and act on serious or persistent breaches of advertising standards
14. Establish a multi-stakeholder committee to periodically review and assess Advertising Standards Complaints Board decisions and pre-vetted advertising

Here’s a link to the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship and the full report.

Extreme and not backed by evidence?  How about all the evidence that supported the wholesale banning of tobacco advertising to reduce ill-health and deaths through smoking – is that not enough??  I’m interested if any one from New Zealand is reading this and would be happy to comment on what they think, Mrs D are you there?  Me?  I’d ban alcohol advertising entirely like they did with tobacco.  Then there are no rules for them to try to bend or work-around.

Plus there was calls for this in the UK over Christmas too with this news article in The Guardian:

Ban alcohol firms from sponsoring sports clubs and events, doctors urge

Leading doctors are demanding a ban on alcohol firms sponsoring sports clubs and events because they claim that the “outrageous” practice is fuelling underage drinking by children.

The leaders of Britain’s nurses, A&E specialists and hospital doctors are among those urging ministers to outlaw the sort of deals that have seen Everton and Celtic football clubs agree multimillion pound tie-ups to advertise beer and cider brands on the front of their players’ shirts.

In a letter to the Guardian, a group of medical leaders, public health campaigners and health charities are calling for the action because alcohol sponsorship of sport has become “as commonplace as advertising for cereal or soap powder”.

The letter says: “Shouldn’t our national sports be inspiring our children to lead healthy and positive lifestyles? It would be considered outrageous if high-profile teams like Everton or Celtic were to become brand ambassadors for tobacco, and so why is it acceptable for alcohol?”

The letter claims: “Self-regulation of alcohol advertising isn’t working when it allows drink brands to dominate sporting events that attract children and adults, creating automatic associations between alcohol brands and sport that are cumulative, unconscious and built up over years.”

The signatories also bolster their plea to ministers by adding: “Importantly, evidence shows that exposure to alcohol advertising leads young people to drink more and to drink at an earlier age.”

The letter’s signatories include Professor Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, which represents hospital doctors; Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing; Dr Mark Porter, chair of council at the British Medical Association; and Dr Clifford Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, which speaks on behalf of A&E doctors.

They want the government to intervene, and claim that public opinion supports introducing a ban on alcohol advertising of sport. “Let’s take action to protect our children by ensuring that the sports we watch promote healthy lifestyles and inspire participation, not a drinking culture. Let’s make alcohol sports sponsorship a thing of the past,” they say.

“Evidence from the UK and abroad shows exposure to alcohol sports sponsorship leads schoolchildren and sportspeople to drink more. Given the hundreds of thousands of pounds channelled into sponsorship deals, it’s not surprising they boost sales,” said Katherine Brown, director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, an independent thinktank.

“It’s obvious that children growing up idolising sporting heroes with beer brands blazoned across their chests will develop deep-rooted positive attitudes towards drinking. It’s also obvious that high profile alcohol advertising via sponsorship deals work to normalise what is in fact an unnatural association between drinking and sport,” Brown added.

HEAR HEAR!!