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Booze business banks on bingers

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/10/2016
<span style="font-size:13px;">The alcohol industry relies on heavy drinking, with sessions of eight or more drinks accounting for about half of Australian sales, researchers have concluded.</span> © Getty The alcohol industry relies on heavy drinking, with sessions of eight or more drinks accounting for about half of Australian sales, researchers have concluded.

Heavy boozing sessions of eight or more drinks account for about half of total alcohol sales in higher income countries like Australia, new research has found.

While the industry commonly promotes "smart" and "safe" drinking habits, researchers at New Zealand's Massey University say clever marketing that creates positive associations towards drinking encourages heavy use.

Professor Sally Casswell said it was often easy to forget health implications associated with heavy drinking in countries like Australia and New Zealand where drinking is a social norm.

Many studies conclude that alcohol consumption is connected to health problems such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, but the alcohol industry tends to avoid providing such information to the public, she said.

The industry had cleverly positioned itself not by challenging the veracity of the evidence of alcohol-related harms, but rather by appealing to a notion of balance between harms and benefits, and misrepresenting and obscuring the causes of those harms.

It had also misrepresented the goals of those promoting evidence-based alcohol public policy as "neo prohibitionist" and attempted to draw attention away from the drivers of harmful use of alcohol - namely oversupply, affordability and billions of dollars spent on marketing that maximised a focus on the consumer.

Professor Casswell said she encouraged governments to play a bigger role in regulating alcohol industry, as they had done with the tobacco industry.

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