ALCOHOL WATCH #13 by Russell Guy.
“The community and the Government and everybody else needs to ask itself what the end game is. Are we going to end up with even fuller jails? And the fact of the matter is no matter what legislation we introduce, we’re not going to arrest our way out of alcohol abuse and Aboriginal disadvantage in the Northern Territory.” – Vince Kelly (pictured left). NT Police Association President (ABC 7:30. 5/3/14).
BACK ON THE TABLE – A CASE FOR THE BANNED DRINKER’S REGISTER
NTG Health Minister, Robyn Lambley has released data intended to prove, yet again, that the Banned Drinker’s Register (BDR) was ineffective in combating alcohol-abuse.
But Dr John Boffa (pictured right) of Alice Springs’ People’s Alcohol Action Coalition (PAAC), has responded to a request from Alcohol Watch by noting that an analysis of the data proves that the BDR was effective in Alice Springs.
“The release of the hospital and ED data by the Northern Territory government has confirmed the harm that was done by the removal of the BDR. It shows a very large increase in alcohol-attributable hospital admissions at the end of 2012 following the removal of the BDR and a corresponding increase in ED presentations.
“This is far outside what would have been expected through natural variability and seasonal variation in the data. It is by far the largest increase seen in the data period provided from 2005 through to 2013.
“The data also shows that there was then a significant improvement in early 2013 but not back to the BDR levels. Again this improvement was not due to natural variation but corresponds with the decline in consumption that we know has occurred in the first six months of 2013 due to the effectiveness of the policing strategy which has effectively reduced take away alcohol supply for large numbers of Aboriginal people.
“It is clear that the BDR was preventing people from becoming seriously ill and requiring hospital care. The removal of the BDR has been partly offset by the new policing strategy on the take away outlets in the data period provided and it is possible that this strategy has become even more successful going forward beyond that last data point in the published series.
“However, there are significant problems with this policing strategy in that it is very costly in terms of police time, it stops people from accessing alcohol who do not have an alcohol problem simply by nature of where they live, it leads to poor relations between the police and the Aboriginal community and it clearly targets only Aboriginal people.
“On the other hand photo-licensing at the point of sale coupled with the BDR applied to all people equally (about 10% of banned drinkers were non Aboriginal people), it applied only to people who had an alcohol problem as evidenced by significant alcohol caused harms, it applied to people wherever they lived in any part of the NT including Darwin.
“It applied equally all of the time and was not dependent on the variable capacity of the police to stand on all take-away outlets all of the time – something they can only do for a few days in a row. There was no ‘rebound effect’ from the BDR whereas there is a rebound increase in alcohol consumption on days when police do not have the capacity to be on all the take-away outlets.
“If any doctor caused this much harm to their patients they would be deregistered for medical malpractice. Why is it OK for a government to cause this much harm to the community from a policy decision and not face some sort of legal proceeding for negligence?
“What government has ever been given a mandate to cause the type of harm that is now so clearly evident in the data that has been published? Surely, this cannot be justified simply by asserting that people are too mean spirited to bother to take five seconds to scan their license at the point of sale?”
CLOSING ADVERTISING LOOPHOLES
A draft report on alcohol advertising from the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) has recommended the Australian government close a loophole in the TV code of advertising that allows alcohol to be promoted during live sport broadcasts in children’s viewing times.
The recommendation has been supported by the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA), the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Greens.
The recommendations include:
• Restrict direct alcohol advertising before 8.30pm and after 5.00am on subscription TV.
• Restrict alcohol advertising in cinemas before 8.30pm and after 5.00am.
• Increase the distance of alcohol advertising from schools from 150m to 500m.
• Revise the ABAC Scheme (the industry’s self-regulatory system) to include guidance on alcohol branded merchandise and sponsorship of sporting, music, cultural and all other events.
• Add new provisions to the ABAC Code to strengthen and improve the clarity around the matter of appeal to children.
GOING TO FLAB ON THE BOOZE
The Australian (26/2/14) reports that “celebrating with a beer after a sporting victory may ultimately make you a loser”.
According to Professor Hawley of the Australian Catholic University, in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Sport and McMaster University in Canada, “alcohol suppresses muscle rebuilding and directly impairs recovery and adaptation to a training or future performance.
“The results clearly demonstrated that alcohol consumption reduced rates of muscle protein synthesis following exercise, and that this impairment in the muscles’ anabolic machinery occurred even when alcohol was co-ingested with protein or carbohydrate,” says Professor Hawley.
ALCOHOL WATCH #13 by Russell Guy.