Home > Reducing alcohol harms whilst minimising impact on hospitality businesses: 'Sweetspot' policy options.

Fitzgerald, Niamh and O'Donnell, Rachel and Uny, Isabelle and Martin, Jack G and Cook, Megan and Graham, Kathryn and Stockwell, Tim and Hughes, Karen and Wilkinson, Claire and McGill, Elizabeth and Miller, Peter G and Reynolds, Jo and Quigg, Zara and Angus, Colin (2024) Reducing alcohol harms whilst minimising impact on hospitality businesses: 'Sweetspot' policy options. International Journal of Drug Policy, 129, 104465. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2024.104465.

External website: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/...

BACKGROUND During COVID-19, hospitality businesses (e.g. bars, restaurants) were closed/restricted whilst off-sales of alcohol increased, with health consequences. Post-covid, governments face lobbying to support such businesses, but many health services remain under pressure. We appraised 'sweetspot' policy options: those with potential to benefit public services and health, whilst avoiding or minimising negative impact on the hospitality sector.

METHODS We conducted rapid non-systematic evidence reviews using index papers, citation searches and team knowledge to summarise the literature relating to four possible 'sweetspot' policy areas: pricing interventions (9 systematic reviews (SR); 14 papers/reports); regulation of online sales (1 SR; 1 paper); place-shaping (2 SRs; 18 papers/reports); and violence reduction initiatives (9 SRs; 24 papers/reports); and led two expert workshops (n = 11).

RESULTS Interventions that raise the price of cheaper shop-bought alcohol appear promising as 'sweetspot' policies; any impact on hospitality is likely small and potentially positive. Restrictions on online sales such as speed or timing of delivery may reduce harm and diversion of consumption from on-trade to home settings. Place-shaping is not well-supported by evidence and experts were sceptical. Reduced late-night trading hours likely reduce violence; evidence of impact on hospitality is scant. Other violence reduction initiatives may modestly reduce harms whilst supporting hospitality, but require resources to deliver multiple measures simultaneously in partnership.

CONCLUSIONS Available evidence and expert views point to regulation of pricing and online sales as having greatest potential as 'sweetspot' alcohol policies, reducing alcohol harm whilst minimising negative impact on hospitality businesses.

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