“Of Substance Magazine – Media Release
52% of Australians support an additional levy on alcohol. National alcohol survey backs major changes to drinking laws
Of Substance, (www.ofsubstance.org.au) Australia’s leading magazine on alcohol, tobacco and drug issues, has today released findings from its comprehensive survey into Australian attitudes towards alcohol.
The survey revealed widespread concern about the effects of alcohol, specifically binge drinking, but also about the impact alcohol was now having on young people and communities.
Respondents expressed significant levels of concern (over 80%) about personal safety, the safety of property and the workload on police because of alcohol related behaviour.
While 84 per cent were concerned about alcohol’s impact on the community, there was widespread confusion about what constituted a session of ‘binge drinking’. Indeed 47% of people believed a ‘binge’ would mean more than 8 drinks at a time Worryingly, almost 10% of respondents believed that someone was not bingeing on alcohol until they had consumed 15 or more drinks.
Conversely, only 1 in 5 respondents could recall having knowledge of the National Drinking Guidelines, which suggest low-risk drinking levels.
In a significant blow to efforts in the drugs and alcohol field to address alcohol related problems– a third of respondents couldn’t name anyone who they could go to for help with an alcohol related problem. More alarming still, 42 per cent of 18-29 year olds did not know where to seek assistance for an alcohol related issue. Interestingly, not one respondent named a telephone help-line as a source of where to get help despite these services existing for many years around the country.
The survey also highlighted that a third of respondents didn’t classify alcohol as a drug.
Alcohol advertisers were also targeted, with the results indicating that 77 per cent of people believe advertising efforts should be reviewed by an independent non-industry body before release to the media. They also wanted advertising restricted to places and times where it was unlikely to be seen by people aged under 18.
Two thirds of respondents believed there isn’t enough public education about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption. One in two people (52%) were willing to see a levy placed on alcohol to help fund alcohol treatment and prevention services.
Of Substance spokesperson and board member Dr John Herron said: “The survey results are indicative of a nation that is confused about alcohol. Whilst moves made in recent weeks by the Government are definitely in the right direction more needs to be done in prevention, education and treatment.
It is time to move onto the tougher issues such as advertising and marketing of alcohol, alcohol availability and more generally the way we tax alcohol. Basically, the higher the alcohol content of a drink the more it should be taxed. We know that some of these are unpopular measures with government and industry, but the Of Substance survey shows there is substantial public support for them. I think there is little doubt now that the community is not only ready to see change but is demanding change from our governments.”
The full survey findings will appear in the April issue of Of Substance.