Harms to ‘others’ from alcohol consumption in the minimum unit pricing policy debate: a qualitative content analysis of UK newspapers (2005–12)
Article first published online: 8 JAN 2014
© 2013 The Authors. Addiction published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for the Study of Addiction
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Volume 109, Issue 4, pages 578–584, April 2014
How to Cite
Wood, K., Patterson, C., Katikireddi, S. V. and Hilton, S. (2014), Harms to ‘others’ from alcohol consumption in the minimum unit pricing policy debate: a qualitative content analysis of UK newspapers (2005–12). Addiction, 109: 578–584. doi: 10.1111/add.12427
- Issue published online: 10 MAR 2014
- Article first published online: 8 JAN 2014
- Accepted manuscript online: 27 NOV 2013 03:31AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 19 NOV 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 29 AUG 2013
- Manuscript Received: 19 JUL 2013
- alcohol policy;
- content analysis;
- harms to others;
- qualitative research
Background and aims
Minimum unit pricing is a fiscal intervention intended to tackle the social and health harms from alcohol to individual drinkers and wider society. This paper presents the first large-scale qualitative examination of how newsprint media framed the debate around the harms of alcohol consumption to ‘others’ during the development and passing of minimum unit pricing legislation in Scotland.
Qualitative content analysis was conducted on seven UK and three Scottish national newspapers between 1 January 2005 and 30 June 2012. Relevant articles were identified using the electronic databases Nexis UK and Newsbank. A total of 403 articles focused on the harms of alcohol consumption to ‘others’ and were eligible for detailed coding and analysis.
Alcohol harms to wider society and communities were identified as being a worsening issue increasingly affecting everyone through shared economic costs, social disorder, crime and violence. The availability of cheap alcohol was blamed, alongside a minority of ‘problem’ youth binge drinkers. The harm caused to families was less widely reported.
If news reporting encourages the public to perceive the harms caused by alcohol to wider society as having reached crisis point, a population-based intervention may be deemed necessary and acceptable. However, the current focus in news reports on youth binge drinkers may be masking the wider issue of overconsumption across the broader population.