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Alcohol policy and the public good

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Despite a diversity of cultural, social and economic experiences with alcohol at national level, a broad unity of purpose is emerging within the alcohol problems perspective. The scientific basis for that perspective finds its support in a sustained international research effort. With the publication in 1994 of the WHO report "Alcohol Policy and the Public Good", that perspective has been given persuasive empirical underpinning and a sharp focus. Essentially the problems perspective suggests that the target for public policy is the prevention or alleviation of population-wide alcohol-related problems, with problems broadly defined. The test for any policy within this arena is then whether it contributes to the achievement of that target. The perspective is thus rational, empirical, rooted in the traditions of public health, and readily intelligible to the ordinary citizen. Key conclusions emanating from "Alcohol Policy and the Public Good" are summarized. That text is rounded off by the challenging assertion that "Drinking problems are not carried by an uncontrollable tide. With public will, and on the evidence, they are capable of amelioration." A positive response to that challenge by the nations of Europe is both necessary and feasible.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 1997

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