Reducing harm from alcohol use
Drinking alcohol is common among Australians. Alcohol is readily available, and the alcohol industry bombards us with alcohol advertising, trying to make drinking alcohol a normal part of our society.
Alcohol use is one of the leading risk factors for disease in Australia. There is strong and convincing evidence that alcohol use can lead to seven different types of cancer. It is estimated that 3,500 cases of cancer each year in Australia are due to alcohol use.
It is much easier for people to cut back on drinking or even stop drinking if the environment around them supports them. As an independent organisation we advocate for improvements to the environment through policy change to reduce harm from alcohol use, including cancer. There are many policy options that are known to be effective.
At Cancer Council NSW we raise awareness of the link between drinking alcohol and cancer because we know almost half of the community aren’t aware of this link. We also advocate for policies that reduce the availability of alcohol, improve alcohol labelling, reform alcohol pricing, and restrict alcohol advertising and promotion. These policies are proven to reduce the burden of alcohol-related harm. Our studies have found strong community support for many of these policies.
Cancer Council’s recommendations to reduce harms cause by alcohol:
- Reform alcohol pricing policy
- Introduce a volumetric tax with tax increasing for products with higher alcohol volumes
- Set a minimum price (or floor price) for alcohol products
- Re-investment of alcohol tax revenue into prevention programs
- Integrate access to sales/consumption data into alcohol pricing reform
- Restrict alcohol advertising and promotion
- Introduce legislation to ban alcohol advertising and promotion that either appeals, or is connected with content that appeals, to people under 25 in all media
- Restrict availability of alcohol
- Enhance public education about alcohol and cancer risk
- Increase awareness of link between alcohol and cancer
Reports and research
- Alcohol use, awareness and support for policy measures: NSW Community Survey on Cancer Prevention 2022
- Changes in public support for alcohol policies in NSW, Australia, 2013–2019
- Discussing alcohol and cancer with patients: Knowledge and practices of general practitioners in New South Wales and South Australia
- Public support for alcohol policies associated with knowledge of cancer risk