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Keywords:

  • Alcohol;
  • alcohol industry;
  • alcohol problems;
  • policy;
  • prevention;
  • treatment

ABSTRACT

This article summarizes the contents of Alcohol: No Ordinary Commodity (2nd edn). The first part of the book describes why alcohol is not an ordinary commodity, and reviews epidemiological data that establish alcohol as a major contributor to the global burden of disease, disability and death in high-, middle- and low-income countries. This section also documents how international beer and spirits production has been consolidated recently by a small number of global corporations that are expanding their operations in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. In the second part of the book, the scientific evidence for strategies and interventions that can prevent or minimize alcohol-related harm is reviewed critically in seven key areas: pricing and taxation, regulating the physical availability of alcohol, modifying the drinking context, drink-driving countermeasures, restrictions on marketing, education and persuasion strategies, and treatment and early intervention services. Finally, the book addresses the policy-making process at the local, national and international levels and provides ratings of the effectiveness of strategies and interventions from a public health perspective. Overall, the strongest, most cost-effective strategies include taxation that increases prices, restrictions on the physical availability of alcohol, drink-driving countermeasures, brief interventions with at risk drinkers and treatment of drinkers with alcohol dependence.