Table of contents

Evidence of what works

Background papers: Lifestyle and wider determinants :: Alcohol :: Evidence of what works

PHE and NICE recommends a variety of measures to address alcohol related harm[1][2]:
• Taxation and price regulation.
• Regulating marketing.
• Regulating availability.
• Providing information and education.
• Managing the drinking environment.
• Brief interventions and treatment.

National measures

• Policies that reduce the affordability of alcohol are the most effective, and cost-effective, approaches to prevention and health improvement[1].
• Taxation and price regulation policies affect consumer demand. Minimum unit pricing (MUP) is highly targeted, ensuring any resulting price increases are passed on to the consumer. Combining an increase in taxation alongside MUP is estimated to lead to substantial gains in alcohol-related health, reductions in crime and work absence costs. This reduction is greater than that achieved by MUP in isolation[1].
• Marketing bans are highly effective and cost effective. Complete bans are more effective and cost-effective than partial bans[1].
• Lower legal alcohol limits for young drivers are effective and cost-effective at reducing casualties and fatalities[1].

Local measures

• Reducing the hours during which alcohol is available can reduce alcohol-related harm. When enforced and targeted at the most densely populated areas this policy is cost-effective[1].
• Regulating the availability of alcohol by reducing the density of licensed premises may reduce inequalities in specific areas with high levels of alcohol-related harm[1].
• Community programmes that are coordinated and implemented through multi-agency partnerships are effective and cost-effective[1].
• Enforcing legislation for reducing road traffic crashes, casualties and fatalities. Enforcement, using breath testing is cost-effective[1].
• Identification and brief advice is effective at addressing alcohol consumption for at risk drinkers, with specialist treatment for those who have harmful drinking patterns and are dependent. These show good returns on investment. Their success depends on large-scale implementation, dedicated treatment, staffing and funding streams[1].
• Effective treatment and recovery services[1].


[1]   Public Health England. The public health burden of alcohol and the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of alcohol control policies: an evidence review 2016;
[2]   NICE. Alcohol-use disorders: prevention 2010;