Taking Preventative Action
2.5 Addressing Alcohol Misuse, Especially Binge Drinking
The Government took further action in April 2008 to tackle the causes of binge drinking when it closed the tax loophole on ready-to-drink beverages or ‘alcopops’. The high sugar levels in alcopops mask their alcohol content and make them particularly appealing for young people, especially females. Since the closure of the tax loophole, in a typical week Australians are consuming approximately 3.45 million less standard drinks of all spirit-based products compared to before the tax increase. Revenue raised through the introduction of the alcopops tax has enabled the funding of the $872.1 million COAG National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health.
In 2009, the NHMRC released updated ‘Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol’ based on the latest clinical and scientific evidence. The Government is broadly distributing educational materials about the updated guidelines, with a particular focus on pregnant and breastfeeding women, young people and parents, and continues to make available promotional resources on the standard drinks concept. The Government is investing a further $100,000 over two years to make the educational materials available in community languages for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
The Government is providing $50 million over four years through the 2010–11 Budget to extend the National Binge Drinking Strategy. This includes the establishment of a $25 million community sponsorship fund as an alternative to alcohol sponsorship for community sporting and cultural organisations. Community level initiatives to tackle binge drinking will be further supported with funding of $20 million over four years. The Government is also providing $5 million over four years to enhance alcohol helplines and for the possible extension of the National Binge Drinking Strategy social marketing campaign.
Further action on alcohol will be informed by the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, evaluations of the National Binge Drinking Strategy measures, the results of the new Australian Health Survey and other existing data collection instruments.
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