News and Notes
Compiled by Peter Miller, Jean O'Reilly and Molly Jarvis
AUSTRALIAN ‘ALCOPOP TAX’ REDUCES OVERALL CONSUMPTION
Data released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that in the three months following the introduction of a 70% tax rise on ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages (RTDs or alcopops) in April 2008, Australians bought 91 million fewer standard drinks in the form of alcopops compared with the same period in 2007. The drop in consumption of the premixed drinks showed the tax rise was effective in cutting binge drinking, public health advocates and the government said. However, the tax also precipitated the first decrease in alcohol sales across the board in five years. The figures, which measured alcohol available for sale in Australia, showed an overall decrease in consumption of 0.14%. Spirit sales rose more than 13%, while wine and beer sales each rose by about 2%. While industry sources claimed people were substituting other beverages for alcopops, the overall reduction in consumption showed replacement was far less than the reduction in alcopops consumption. Beer and spirit consumption increased but not by enough to offset the decrease in RTD consumption, so the overall effect was a decline in per capita consumption. These figures also coincided with substantial population increases. For more information see: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4307.0.55.001
NEW ZEALAND LAW COMMISSION REPORT ON ALCOHOL RELEASED
The NZ Law Commission report ‘Alcohol in our Lives: Curbing the Harm’ has been released and is available on the Law Commission website http://www.lawcom.govt.nz. The terms of reference for the review required the Commission to consider a broad range of issues, including the adequacy of the current liquor licensing laws, alcohol taxation and pricing, advertising, age restrictions and the responsibilities of parents with respect to adolescent drinking. The report contains 153 recommendations to the Government and is divided into four parts. Part 1 summarises the public consultation findings and outlines the case for legal reform, Part 2 sets out the detailed framework for a new licensing system, Part 3 deals with alcohol taxation and pricing and the promotion of alcohol and Part 4 addresses alcohol offences, education and treatment. A separate report on the 2939 public submissions on the Commission's Issues Paper, ‘Alcohol in our Lives’ (NZLC IP15, Wellington 2009), is also available. This 48 page report prepared by independent consultants, Litmus, contains an analysis of all 2939 submissions across seven key policy areas: licensing, opening hours, purchase/drinking age, off-licences, tax and price, advertising and drinking in a public place. It also contains an in-depth analysis of different stakeholder positions across the full range of policy options.
MAJOR FRENCH STUDY CHALLENGES CARDIO-PROTECTIVE STATUS OF ALCOHOL
HealthDay News reports that a major French study has challenged the notion that moderate drinking gets the credit for links between moderate drinking and a lower risk for cardiovascular disease. Researchers found that people who drink moderately tend to have a higher social status, exercise more, suffer less depression and enjoy superior health overall compared to heavy drinkers and lifetime abstainers. The study looked at the health status and drinking habits of 149 773 French adults and was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The study found that men and women who reported their alcohol intake as low or moderate had a more favourable health status than both those who said they never drank and those who reported high alcohol intake. Men who drank moderately were more likely to have a lower body-mass index, lower fasting triglycerides and blood glucose, lower blood pressure, and other factors associated with a lower risk of heart disease, while their female counterparts had smaller waists, lower blood pressure, lower fasting triglycerides, and lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels. However, data on the overall lifestyle of people in the study indicate that there is no link between the increased level of HDL cholesterol and reduced cardiovascular risk. The authors concluded that ‘the relationship between moderate drinking and lower cardiovascular risk is due to confounding factors’.
TOBACCO COMPANIES INCREASE MARKETING TO WOMEN IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that tobacco firms are increasingly targeting advertisements towards women in developing countries. Advertisements telling smokers that they are smarter, more energetic and better lovers than their non-smoking counterparts are becoming a familiar sight across Bangladesh. One poster asserted that smoking made childbirth easier and less painful. In Bangladesh, illegal fly-posters (tobacco advertising was banned in 2005) are accompanied by products thought to be more attractive to female smokers, including fruit-flavoured cigarettes and ultra-thin cigarettes in slim, colourful packets.
World Health Organization (WHO) chief Margaret Chan says that developing countries are the ‘new frontier’ for tobacco marketing. ‘If Big Tobacco is in retreat in some parts of the world, it is on the march in others’, she said in a speech on the fifth anniversary of an international convention on tobacco control. Around 28% of adult Bangladeshi women now use tobacco, according to the latest WHO survey, and 43% of the adult population—or 41 million people—use tobacco in some form, up from 37% in 2004.
NO MORE SMOKING ABOARD US NAVY SUBMARINES
The US Navy has announced that smoking below deck on US Navy submarines will be banned by the end of 2010 so that non-smokers do not have to inhale second-hand smoke. The ban will become effective ‘no later’ than 31 December. The order follows a 2006 US surgeon general's report that states there is no risk-free level of exposure to second-hand smoke, and a year-long health study conducted in 2009 aboard nine different submarines that showed ‘measurable’ levels of second-hand smoke. Until now permission to smoke aboard any of the 57 submarines in the US fleet was at the discretion of each submarine captain. According to Mark Jones, spokesman for the US Navy submarine fleet, 40% of submarine sailors are smokers.
Source: AFP, 10 April 2010
PARAGUAY BANS SMOKING IN ALL CLOSED PUBLIC SPACES
Paraguay has introduced a ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and shopping malls. The new measure bans smoking in all closed spaces where people gather, including private businesses. Businesses that don't comply will be liable for fines from the Health Ministry.
Source: AFP, 11 April 2010
WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY ADOPTS WHO VIRAL HEPATITIS RESOLUTION
The 63rd World Health Assembly has resolved that the World Health Organization (WHO) will now develop a global strategy for hepatitis prevention. For the first time, the resolution recognises the global impact of hepatitis B and C, two diseases that kill one million people a year and which, to date, have not received the global attention they deserve. The World Health Assembly has established a robust framework to deliver improvements in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and awareness. The resolution clearly states the need for global coordinated action to tackle viral hepatitis, backed by dedicated resources. It also provides global endorsement of World Hepatitis Day as the primary focus for national and international awareness-raising efforts.
Source: World Hepatitis Alliance; http://www.worldhepatitisalliance.org
PRESIDENT OBAMA RELEASES US NATIONAL STRATEGY TO REDUCE DRUG USE AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
President Obama has released the US Administration's inaugural National Drug Control Strategy, which establishes five-year goals for reducing drug use and its consequences through a balanced policy of prevention, treatment, enforcement and international cooperation. The 2010 Strategy highlights a collaborative and balanced approach that emphasizes community-based prevention, integration of evidence-based treatment into the mainstream health care system, innovations in the criminal justice system to break the cycle of drug use and crime, and international partnerships to disrupt transnational drug trafficking organizations. It also includes further support of the implementation of needle and syringe programs. Full details at: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov
NEGATIVE TOXICOLOGY REPORT FOR TWO TEENAGERS WHOSE DEATHS LED TO UK MEPHEDRONE BAN
A toxicology report of two teenagers thought to have died from mephedrone, and whose deaths lent support to the UK government's emergency ban of mephedrone in April, showed neither had actually taken the drug. Following media hype about ‘legal highs’, the government subsequently rushed through an emergency ban on the drug and related compounds that became law in early April. Although mephedrone was implicated in 27 deaths, a report by the International Centre for Drug Policy at University College London found it to be a contributing factor in just one case. In an associated commentary, Professor David Nutt said ‘If these reports are true, the previous government's rush to ban mephedrone never had any serious scientific credibility’. Calls are now being made for a long-overdue review of drug control policy.
CALL FOR PAPERS: THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF ALCOHOL AND DRUGS: AN INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL
The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs (SHAD) is a peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to publishing high-quality original academic research, reflection essays and reviews in the field of alcohol and drug history, broadly construed. The journal invites authors from a range of disciplines to submit papers on the wide range of topics within the journal's purview. General topics include the manufacture, prohibition, consumption and regulation of alcohol, drugs (recreational, pharmaceutical etc), tobacco, coffee and so on. The disciplinary focus can be broad, ranging from economic, business, political, social, and cultural history to sociology, anthropology and criminology. The journal remains a history journal, however, so the main focus of the papers needs to be historical. SHAD is published under the auspices of the Alcohol and Drug History Society (ADHS) twice annually, in the winter (Issue 1) and in the summer (Issue 2) of each year.
For more information, please contact Dan Malleck, Editor-in-Chief (email@example.com, http://historyofalcoholanddrugs.typepad.com).
MATS RAMSTEDT RECEIVES 2010 CAN PRIZE
Since its 100th anniversary in 2001, the Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs (CAN) has awarded an annual prize to an alcohol or drug researcher working in Sweden. The prize winner this year is Dr Mats Ramstedt at the Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD), University of Stockholm, Sweden. Mats Ramstedt's research has contributed significantly to our understanding of the relation between alcohol and alcohol-related harm at the individual as well as the aggregate level. An important finding in Ramstedt's research is that the possible cardio-protective effect of moderate alcohol intake seems to be outweighed by the negative impact that increased consumption has on heart disease mortality in heavy drinkers. Ramstedt's analyses of differences in drinking habits across countries in northern, mid- and southern Europe have documented the significance of drinking patterns, particularly intoxication drinking, for the understanding of country differences in the relation between alcohol and harm. Ramstedt's research is characterized by breadth as well as depth and a strong international profile coupled with engagement in research topics that are important and central in the Swedish and Nordic arenas. Congratulations Dr Ramstedt.
CONFERENCES AND EVENTS
7th Annual Conference of the International Network on Brief Interventions for Alcohol Problems (INEBRIA), 9–10 September 2010, Gothenburg, Sweden. Website: http://www.inebria.net/Du14/html/en/dir1339/doc17916.html
International Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism (ISBRA) 2010 Congress, 13–16 September 2010, Paris, France. Website: http://www.isbra2010paris.org/
Specialist Clinical Addiction Network (SCAN) Conference 2010, 30-September—1 October 2010, Hotel Diagonal Zero, Barcelona, Spain. Website: http://www.scan.uk.net, or contact Rebecca Murchie at firstname.lastname@example.org
International Workshop Conference: Urban Drug Policies in the Globalised World, 30 September—2 October, Prague, Czech Republic. Website: http://www.urbandrugpolicy.com
International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE) Annual Meeting, 30 September–3 October 2010, Hotel Josef, Prague, Czech Republic. Website: http://www.parint.org/isajewebsite/meetings2010.htm
The International Society of Addiction Medicine 12th Annual Meeting, 4–7 October 2010, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy. Website: http://www.isam2010.medicina.unimib.it/
Congrès International Francophone d'Addictologie—Prévenir et Traiter les Addictions Sans Drogue: Un Defi Societal, 6–8 October 2010, Nantes Cité Internationale des Congrès, Nantes, France. Website: http://www.crje.fr/congres_2010_annonce.html
International Nurses Society on Addictions Annual Educational Conference–Learning from Each Other: A Global Perspective on Addictions, 20–23 October 2010, Greenwich, Connecticut, USA. Website: http://www.intnsa.org/events.php
The American Association of for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence National Conference, 23–27 October 2010, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Website: http://www.aatod.org/ 2010chicago.html
Addictions 2010. The New Frontier in Addiction Treatment: Evidence-Based Policy and Practice, 28–31 October 2010, Sheraton National, Arlington, VA, USA. Website: http://www.addictions-conference.elsevier.com
53rd International Council on Alcohol and Addictions (ICAA) Conference on Dependencies, 2–6 November 2010, Cancún, Mexico. Website: http://www.icaa.ch/mexico2010.html
Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA) 34th Annual National Conference, 4–6 November 2010, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Website: http://www.amersa.org, or contact Doreen Baeder at email@example.com
American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Exposition, 6–10 November 2010, Denver, Colorado, USA. Website: http://www.apha.org/meetings/
Society for the Study of Addiction Annual Symposium, 11–12 November 2010, Park Inn, York, UK. Themes: ‘Dissemination and implementation of addiction research’ and ‘Addictions and commonly co-existing problems’. Society Lecture by Sally Casswell. Delegate abstracts for oral and poster presentations now welcome. Website: http://www.addiction-ssa.org/ssa_10.htm
Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, 13–17 November, San Diego, California, USA. Website: http://www.sfn.org/am2010/
Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD) Annual Conference, 28 November—1 December 2010, Canberra, Australia. Website: http://www.apsadconference.com.au/
American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry 21st Annual Meeting and Symposium, 2–5 December 2010, Boca Raton Resort & Club, Boca Raton, FL, USA. Website: http://www2.aaap.org/announcements/aaap-21st-annual-meeting-and-symposium
Alcohol Policy Conference Series #15: Policies for Reducing Problems Associated with Alcohol Availability, 5–7 December 2010, Washington Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, DC, USA. A thematic meeting of the Kettil Bruun Society, organized by the Silver Gate Group. Website: http://www.silvergategroup.com/ap15/index.htm
Australian Drug Foundation's 6th International Drugs and Young People Conference, 2–4 May 2011, Melbourne Convention Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Website: http://www.adf.org.au/
News and Notes welcomes contributions from its readers. Send your material to Peter Miller, News and Notes Editor, Addiction, National Addiction Centre PO48, 4 Windsor Walk, London SE5 8AF. Fax +44 (0)20 7848 5966; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Conference entries should be sent to Jean O'Reilly at email@example.com. Subject to editorial review, we will be glad to print, free of charge, details of your conference or event, up to 75 words and one entry only. Please send your notification three months before you wish the entry to appear.