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1.
PLoS One ; 16(12): e0255757, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1633355

ABSTRACT

As many U.S. states implemented stay-at-home orders beginning in March 2020, anecdotes reported a surge in alcohol sales, raising concerns about increased alcohol use and associated ills. The surveillance report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides monthly U.S. alcohol sales data from a subset of states, allowing an investigation of this potential increase in alcohol use. Meanwhile, anonymized human mobility data released by companies such as SafeGraph enables an examination of the visiting behavior of people to various alcohol outlets such as bars and liquor stores. This study examines changes to alcohol sales and alcohol outlet visits during COVID-19 and their geographic differences across states. We find major increases in the sales of spirits and wine since March 2020, while the sales of beer decreased. We also find moderate increases in people's visits to liquor stores, while their visits to bars and pubs substantially decreased. Noticing a significant correlation between alcohol sales and outlet visits, we use machine learning models to examine their relationship and find evidence in some states for likely panic buying of spirits and wine. Large geographic differences exist across states, with both major increases and decreases in alcohol sales and alcohol outlet visits.


Subject(s)
Alcohol Drinking/epidemiology , Alcoholic Beverages/economics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Commerce/statistics & numerical data , Consumer Behavior/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Machine Learning , United States
2.
S Afr Med J ; 111(9): 834-837, 2021 07 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1404036

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) restrictions, particularly relating to the sale of alcohol and hours of curfew, have had a marked effect on the temporal pattern of unnatural deaths in South Africa. Methods. Death data were collected over 68 weeks from January 2020 to April 2021, together with information on the nature of restrictions (if any) on the sale of alcohol, and hours of curfew. Data were analysed using a simple ordinary least square (OLS) regression model to estimate the relative contribution of restrictions on the sale of alcohol and hours of curfew to the pattern of excess unnatural deaths. Results. The complete restriction on the sale of alcohol resulted in a statistically significant reduction in unnatural deaths regardless of the length of curfew. To the contrary, periods where no or limited restrictions on alcohol were in force had no significant effect, or resulted in significantly increased unnatural deaths. Conclusions. The present study highlights an association between alcohol availability and the number of unnatural deaths and demonstrates the extent to which those deaths might be averted by disrupting the alcohol supply. While this is not a long-term solution to addressing alcohol-related harm, it further raises the importance of implementing evidence-based alcohol control measures.


Subject(s)
Alcohol Drinking/legislation & jurisprudence , Alcoholic Beverages/legislation & jurisprudence , COVID-19 , Commerce/legislation & jurisprudence , Alcoholic Beverages/economics , Cause of Death , Humans , Social Control, Formal , South Africa , Time Factors
3.
Nutrients ; 13(8)2021 Aug 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1367877

ABSTRACT

Evidence for effective government policies to reduce exposure to alcohol's carcinogenic and hepatoxic effects has strengthened in recent decades. Policies with the strongest evidence involve reducing the affordability, availability and cultural acceptability of alcohol. However, policies that reduce population consumption compete with powerful commercial vested interests. This paper draws on the Canadian Alcohol Policy Evaluation (CAPE), a formal assessment of effective government action on alcohol across Canadian jurisdictions. It also draws on alcohol policy case studies elsewhere involving attempts to introduce minimum unit pricing and cancer warning labels on alcohol containers. Canadian governments collectively received a failing grade (F) for alcohol policy implementation during the most recent CAPE assessment in 2017. However, had the best practices observed in any one jurisdiction been implemented consistently, Canada would have received an A grade. Resistance to effective alcohol policies is due to (1) lack of public awareness of both need and effectiveness, (2) a lack of government regulatory mechanisms to implement effective policies, (3) alcohol industry lobbying, and (4) a failure from the public health community to promote specific and feasible actions as opposed to general principles, e.g., 'increased prices' or 'reduced affordability'. There is enormous untapped potential in most countries for the implementation of proven strategies to reduce alcohol-related harm. While alcohol policies have weakened in many countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, societies may now also be more accepting of public health-inspired policies with proven effectiveness and potential economic benefits.


Subject(s)
Alcohol Drinking/legislation & jurisprudence , Alcoholic Beverages/legislation & jurisprudence , Health Policy , Public Health , Alcohol Drinking/adverse effects , Alcoholic Beverages/economics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Canada , Commerce/economics , Commerce/standards , Costs and Cost Analysis , Government Programs , Government Regulation , Humans , Pandemics , Product Labeling/legislation & jurisprudence , Public Policy , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification
4.
Lancet Public Health ; 6(8): e557-e565, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1246267

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: As a policy option to reduce consumption of alcohol and the harm it does, on May 1, 2018, Scotland introduced a minimum price of 50 British pence (p) per unit of alcohol (8 g) sold; Wales followed suit on March 2, 2020, with the same minimum unit price (MUP). We analysed household purchase data based on bar codes to assess the impact of these policy options in the medium term for Scotland and in the immediate term for Wales. METHODS: For these location-controlled, interrupted time series regression analyses, the data source was Kantar WorldPanel's household shopping panel, which, at the time of our analysis, included 35 242 British households providing detailed information on 1·24 million separate alcohol purchases in 2015-18 and the first half of 2020. With no data exclusions, we analysed the impact of introducing MUP in Scotland, using purchases in northern England as control, and in Wales, using western England as control. The studied changes associated with MUP were price paid per gram of alcohol purchased, grams of alcohol purchased, and amount of money spent on alcohol. FINDINGS: In Scotland, price increases and purchase decreases following the introduction of MUP in 2018 were maintained during the first half of 2020. The difference between Scotland and northern England in 2020 was a price increase of 0·741 p per gram (95% CI 0·724-0·759), a 7·6% increase, and a purchase decrease of 7·063 g per adult per household per day that an alcohol purchase was made (6·656-7·470), a 7·7% decrease. In Wales, the introduction of MUP led to similar results. The difference between Wales and western England was a price increase 0·841 of 0·841 p per gram (0·732-0·951), an 8·2% increase, and a purchase decrease of 7·052 g per adult per household per day that an alcohol purchase was made (6·463-7·640), an 8·6% decrease. For both Scotland and Wales, reductions in overall purchases of alcohol were largely restricted to households that bought the most alcohol. The introduction of MUP was not associated with an increased expenditure on alcohol by households that generally bought small amounts of alcohol and, in particular, those with low incomes. The changes were not affected by the introduction of COVID-19 confinement in the UK on March 26, 2020. INTERPRETATION: The evidence base supporting the positive, targeted impact of MUP is strengthened by the comparable results for Scotland and Wales. The short-term impact of MUP in Scotland during 2018 is maintained during the first half of 2020. MUP is an effective alcohol policy option to reduce off-trade purchases of alcohol and should be widely considered. FUNDING: None.


Subject(s)
Alcoholic Beverages/economics , Commerce/legislation & jurisprudence , Commerce/statistics & numerical data , Public Policy , Alcohol Drinking/prevention & control , Humans , Interrupted Time Series Analysis , Scotland , Wales
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