New approaches to alcohol

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AndyThe management of alcohol as a consumer product, a health risk, and as part of our economy raises different challenges, to be tackled by a European conference. Andy Stonard explains

The European Alcohol Conference, to be held in London later this month, offers an opportunity to both think and learn, exploring different attitudes and practice in dealing with alcohol. It’s a timely event, given the current developments around alcohol policy, with local areas exploring their ability to influence the situation.

As senior policy manager at the London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum (LDAPF), who are hosting the event, David Mackintosh is familiar with the challenges involved in addressing alcohol-related harm. ‘With a few honourable exceptions it has remained in a narrow policy silo for this whole period, despite alcohol harm being a significant factor across many priority policy areas,’ he says. ‘There are now some glimmers of a more holistic approach and a realisation that it’s not a peripheral issue that only relates to a small minority.’

AlcoholThere is a growing body of research and experience that can help to inform our responses to alcohol, but we need to work to bring these together and provide a coherent approach that is understood and supports our communities. Too often responses are characterised by one-off initiatives or approaches that are known to be ineffective.

Through this conference, we hope to combine the latest research and thinking alongside practical delivery from differing settings. We want to consider the political, cultural and environmental factors that have a significant bearing on how we manage alcohol, and provide support and inspiration for those working to reduce drink-related harms.

Andy Stonard is author of A Glass Half Full: Drinking – reducing the harm

European Alcohol Conference: Comparing and contrasting practice across Europe, 24 April. London. For details and booking, visit this link.