FARE submission to the national consultation on the Draft National Preventative Health Strategy

This week FARE submitted to the Draft National Preventative Health Strategy (NPHS) consultation. In our submission, FARE welcomed the inclusion of a focus area on reducing alcohol harms. In this focus area, the draft NPHS identifies the significant contribution that alcohol use contributes to preventable disease and injury in Australia and the need for preventative action that addresses harm reduction and reduction in the demand and supply of alcoholic products. The draft NPHS also acknowledges the social and structural drivers contributing to harmful alcohol use.

FARE were please that the draft NPHS included a target for reducing risky alcohol use by 10% by 2025; with risky alcohol use defined using the 2020 Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol as drinking more than 10 standard drinks a week or more than 4 standard drinks on any one day. We recommended that the NPHS must go further by including additional targets for risky alcohol use, particularly addressing the other two Alcohol Guidelines: that people under 18 years of age, and that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, should not drink alcohol.

FARE also recommended policy achievements addressing the restriction of alcohol availability and promotion, reduction of alcohol affordability, and evidence-based and credible mass media campaigns to promote the NHMRC Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol.

Throughout our submission, FARE took the strong stance that public health policies and strategies must be protected from the vested commercial interests of alcohol companies.

Recommendations:

  1. The NPHS includes the following 5 targets for reducing alcohol harm within the ‘reducing alcohol and other drug harm’ focus area:
    • 10% reduction in risky alcohol use by Australians (≥14 years) by 2025
    • 20% reduction in young people (aged 14-17 years) using alcohol by 2030
    • 1 year increase in the average age at which young people (14-24 years) first try alcohol by 2030
    • 20% reduction in women who use alcohol while pregnant by 2030
    • 20% reduction of women using alcohol while breastfeeding by 2030
  2. Under the focus area ‘reducing alcohol and other drug harm’
    • Create a stand-alone policy achievement for alcohol availability: Alcohol availability is restricted through regulation of outlet location, size and density, and online sales and delivery of alcohol.
    • Expand the policy achievement for restricting exposure of alcohol marketing: Restrict exposure to alcohol marketing for young people under 25 years of age, including through digital media, through independent legislative controls.
    • Create a stand-alone policy achievement for promoting the Alcohol Guidelines: The NHMRC Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol are promoted using evidence-based and credible mass media campaigns.
    • Include the policy achievement: Pricing policies are implemented that reduce risky alcohol use.
    • Include the policy achievement: Public health policies and strategies are protected from alcohol industry involvement and interference.
  3. The NPHS includes supportive environments as a seventh principle.
  4. The NPHS includes “Methods and media for dissemination of health information is evidence-based” as a sixth policy achievement under the enabler ‘Information and health literacy’.
  5. The NPHS specifically acknowledges commercial determinants contributing to harmful alcohol use in the ‘reducing alcohol and other drug harm’ focus area.
  6. Allocate responsibility for implementation of the Strategy to levels of government, departments and agencies.
  7. Remove references to industry as a prevention partner from the NPHS.

FARE supports policy reforms that contribute to a reduction in alcohol-related harms in Australia. Our policy work is informed by the evidence of what is most effective in reducing alcohol-related harms. We support the progression of population-based health measures, which take into consideration the far reaching and complex impacts of alcohol-related harms.

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