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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

What should be done about policy on alcohol pricing and promotions? Australian experts’ views of policy priorities: a qualitative interview study

Andrea S Fogarty and Simon Chapman*

Author Affiliations

Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Edward Ford Building (A27), Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:610  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-610

Published: 25 June 2013

Abstract

Background

Alcohol policy priorities in Australia have been set by the National Preventative Health Task Force, yet significant reform has not occurred. News media coverage of these priorities has not reported public health experts as in agreement and Government has not acted upon the legislative recommendations made. We investigate policy experts’ views on alcohol policy priorities with a view to establishing levels of accord and providing suggestions for future advocates.

Methods

We conducted semi-structured in depth interviews with alcohol policy experts and advocates around Australia. Open-ended questions examined participants’ thoughts on existing policy recommendations, obvious policy priorities and specifically, the future of national reforms to price and promotions policies. All transcripts were analysed for major themes and points of agreement or disagreement.

Results

Twenty one alcohol policy experts agreed that pricing policies are a top national priority and most agreed that “something should be done” about alcohol advertising. Volumetric taxation and minimum pricing were regarded as the most important price policies, yet differences emerged in defining the exact form of a proposed volumetric tax. Important differences in perspective emerged regarding alcohol promotions, with lack of agreement about the preferred form regulations should take, where to start and who the policy should be directed at. Very few discussed online advertising and social networks.

Conclusions

Despite existing policy collaborations, a clear ‘cut through’ message is yet to be endorsed by all alcohol control advocates. There is a need to articulate and promote in greater detail the specifics of policy reforms to minimum pricing, volumetric taxation and restrictions on alcohol advertising, particularly regarding sporting sponsorships and new media.

Keywords:
Alcohol advertising; Alcohol pricing; Policy; Public health; Advocacy