Drinking beer can add to people’s enjoyment of life as a low alcohol and natural product. The majority of adults consume beer in moderation. The Brewers Association acknowledges that there are some people who misuse alcohol. We support targeted efforts by industry, government and the community to reduce instances of misuse.
The majority of adults drink responsibly
Government involvement in relation to alcohol policy should be focused on reducing harmful consumption rather than consumption of alcohol of itself. The focus should be on irresponsible behaviour of those who misuse alcohol.
Alcohol policy should be based on establishing a drinking culture that maximises enjoyment and benefits of moderate consumption while tackling the harms caused by alcohol abuse.
Targeted intervention is the most effective policy approach
Harmful consumption of alcohol is a complex issue that requires a range of targeted measures. We support government involvement in harm reduction through evidence based targeted interventions for at risk groups measured by reducing harmful consumption.
Targeted intervention, including a combination of education, strong enforcement of existing laws, and laws to reinforce the social norm of responsible and moderate consumption is far more effective in resolving harmful consumption without impacting on the majority that consume alcohol in moderation.
The beer industry is committed to culture change in Australia and New Zealand so that harmful consumption becomes socially unacceptable. Significant industry funding through our member companies contribute towards responsible consumption campaigns and towards both DrinkWise Australia and Cheers! NZ.
Why a per capita approach does not work
Alcohol policies that seek to reduce total alcohol consumption by a country will not reduce misuse, but will simply target those consumers who are already drinking in moderation to reduce their intake. This has no impact on reducing alcohol misuse.
Policies which seek to reduce total consumption are known as “control of consumption” measures.
The control of consumption theory contends that there is a link between per capita consumption and levels of abuse. This theory has been challenged in recent years as a result of evidence regarding the beneficial health effects of moderate consumption of alcohol and also the varying factors of what contributes towards harmful consumption.
There is a growing body of evidence that targeted interventions that focus on patterns of drinking rather than total consumption are a better means of addressing harmful consumption.
“One of the major conceptual shifts that has occurred in the alcohol field over the past decade has been the recognition (albeit reluctantly in some quarters) of the limitations and inaccuracies inherent within a single-distribution theory of alcohol consumption and all that such a position implies.”
 Roche, A.M, and Evans K.R (1998), "Drinking Patterns and their Consequences.”, page 244, Taylor & Francis, Philadelphia