Alcohol policy refers to a range of measures formulated and implemented by government and other public authorities that are designed to prevent, ameliorate, or treat the health and social problems associated with alcohol use.

Effective alcohol policies

The scientific study of alcohol policy over several decades tells us which interventions are likely to be successful in reducing alcohol-related harm, and which will have limited if any impact.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) review of 32 alcohol strategies and interventions found that in terms of (i) degree of effectiveness, (ii) breadth of research support, (iii) extent to which they have been tested cross-culturally, (iv) relative expense of implementation, the most effective alcohol policies include:

Most effective

  • alcohol control measures (price & availability)
  • drink-driving laws
  • brief interventions for “risky” and harmful drinkers

At the other end of the spectrum, the policies that it was difficult to find a direct positive effect on drinking patterns or problems include:

Least effective

  • education in schools
  • public service announcements
  • voluntary regulation by the alcohol industry