10 de gener 2018

Alcohol regulation as a public policy issue

Alcohol, Power and Public Health: A Comparative Study of Alcohol Policy

Nowadays, I would say that Alcohol Policy this is one of the most difficult and curcial issues in public health. Our societies have internalised its consumption without addressing its risks and the power between industry and regulators is absolutely unbalanced.
A new book that compares the situation in 5 countries is really welcome. Our country is leaving this policy for tomorrow. I would suggest a close look, just for inspiration. Maybe someday it will be the right time.
In particular, change to the alcohol policy status quo requires the convergence of various factors:
  1. For alcohol harm to emerge as a significant, and visible, social problem. This means not only a raised public and political awareness of alcohol harms, but a degree of consensus in framing those harms as a particular type of problem. This, as we have seen, is often driven by concrete social change – especially increases in the amount of alcohol consumed in a given society. However, it also implies the successful framing of a problem by advocacy coalitions, often relying on the development of a more or less compelling body of scientific evidence, as well as external sociopolitical factors (such as, for instance, the crisis of the First World War in Europe) that force the political issue and place the public spotlight on alcohol as a social problem in need of tailored political solutions.
  2. For proponents of change to convince sufficient relevant stakeholders of the validity of their solutions to the putative problem. These include the scientific community, key policymaking networks, influential sections of the media, and so on. As we have seen, for alcohol policy advocates, this means not only winning the argument that alcohol harms exists on a continuum, but also that the line of justifiable intervention is some distance below that commonly understood as ‘dependency’ or limited to those who behave badly when drunk.
  3. For the proposed policy actions to chime sufficiently with the prevailing political context. That is, for policymakers not only to accept the diagnostic and political arguments but, crucially, to decide that implementation of the proposed solutions is politically viable, realistic, consonant with both the ‘national mood’ and internal party politics, and – of course – capable of withstanding resistance from opposing interest groups.
Sounds obvious, but first steps should be well grounded. Current hypocritical attitude should be overcome.