Managing availability, price and promotion
Spearhead advocacy efforts at the Ministerial Drug and Alcohol Forum to introduce a nationally consistent minimum unit price on alcohol.
More than half of Australians (59%) believe that governments should ensure that alcohol products are not sold below the price of bottled water of soft drinks. Cheaper alcohol results in higher rates of consumption, including heavier drinking, occasional drinking, underage drinking and higher levels of alcohol harm. This harm affects the drinker, their partners, their children and communities, with Queenslanders paying the cost of this harm through health, police, social services and court costs.
Enabled by weaknesses in Australia’s system of alcohol taxation, in particular the Wine Equalisation Tax, big-box outlets are selling high volumes of discounted and cheap bulk alcohol – the choice of Australia’s heaviest drinkers and pre-loading young people. Low cost alcohol disproportionately harms these groups, who are more likely to seek out cheaper alcohol than low or moderate drinkers.
Pricing controls, such as minimum unit pricing (MUP), have been identified by the World Health Organisation as some of the most effective measures to reduce harm caused by alcohol. MUP effectively reduces harms among the heaviest consumers, while limiting ordinary drinkers who are consuming at a moderate or low level. MUP has been successfully introduced internationally with resultant reductions in alcohol related harms in countries including Scotland, Canada, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.
Locally, the Northern Territory introduced MUP in October 2018 and reports assessing the impact have found reductions in alcohol-related road crashes causing injury or fatality, assaults, ambulance attendances, emergency department presentations and episodes of protective custody. This has all been achieved while having no significant impact on tourism or the number of liquor licences in the NT.
A nationally consistent approach would be the most effective solution, avoiding any disparity between the states. However, as outlined in the National Alcohol Strategy 2019 – 2028, the responsibility of MUP lies with state and territory governments.
We therefore urge the Queensland government to spearhead advocacy for introducing a nationally consistent MUP at the Ministerial Drug and Alcohol Forum.
Tighten restrictions on alcohol advertising on government buildings and implement a complete ban immediately.
We applaud the Queensland government for its move to ban alcohol advertising on government buildings and government owned infrastructure. This important move acknowledges the contradiction of governments allowing alcohol advertisements on their physical sites while simultaneously promoting public health messages about the harms of alcohol.
However, information provided by the Queensland Government states that existing contracts for advertising on building won’t be changed until they come up for renewal, and some are in place for 5 – 20 years. This includes over 2,000 government owned billboards and advertising spaces including those next to major highways, outside hospitals (such as Princess Alexandra Hospital, Queen Elizabeth II Hospital and the Prince Charles Hospital), overlooking schools and recreation spaces where weekend sport is played. This decision delays the community benefits of this policy.
In this period, the harms of these advertisement are both ongoing and long lasting. Although there are regulations in place so that alcohol industry cannot directly target children and teenagers, young people inevitably see and are impacted by the advertisements placed in and around public spaces. These advertisements lead to the earlier onset of alcohol consumption in young people (often under 18), and to increased alcohol consumption if they are already consumers.
In strong support of this policy, we urge the government to implement a complete ban immediately and remove all alcohol advertisements from government owned buildings and infrastructure.